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Man sentenced to 5 years for Chula Vista street race death of grandmother


A man who drove on the wrong side of a Chula Vista roadway during an apparent high-speed street race, triggering a crash that killed a woman and injured her two grandchildren, was sentenced Thursday to five years in state prison.

Alonso Piña, 23, pleaded guilty last month to vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving charges in the June 5, 2021, death of Martha Villalobos Romo. Piña’s car struck Villalobos Romo’s car at the intersection of Third Avenue and L Street.

Police said Piña, behind the wheel of a 2010 Ford Mustang, was driving on the wrong side of the road around 6 p.m. when he ran a red light at the intersection, striking Villalobos Romo’s Nissan Altima. She died at the scene, and her 7- and 10-year-old grandchildren were hospitalized with minor injuries.

Piña was also hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and booked into county jail two days later.

Police said that prior to the crash, Pina was believed to have been racing with the driver of a white Subaru WRX who remains unidentified.

The stipulated five-year prison term was reached through an agreement between the victim and defendant’s families, attorneys said at Piña’s sentencing hearing.

Piña did not make a statement in court, but did write an apology letter to the victim’s family, in which he wrote that like Villalobos’ grandchildren, he was also young when his father died of a heart attack.

“My Papa died young, but at least he died from a natural cause,” Piña wrote. “I must always live with knowing that my actions alone are what caused their grandmother’s death. This is awful for us all, but for none more so than the Villalobos’ family … I will suffer forever but never as much as Mrs. Villalobos and her family. It doesn’t even seem like I have (the) right to mention any of my or my family’s suffering.”

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