November 7, 2020

DUI Driver That Killed 4 in Chicano Park Released Early from Prison

By La Prensa San Diego

By Sandra G. Leon

A drunk driver that drove his truck off the Coronado Bridge and killed four people at Chicano Park has been released from prison after serving less than three years of a nearly 10 year sentence.

Richard Anthony Sepolio

Richard Anthony Sepolio, now 28, had been drinking before driving to work at NAS North Island on October 15, 2016. A US Navy Petty Officer at the time, Sepolio lost control of his truck on the bridge on-ramp from Northbound I-5. His truck fell down onto people attending an event at Chicano Park, killing four people and injuring seven others.

Sepolio was sentenced to nine year and eight months in prison, but was released after serving only two year and 10 months. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) cited good behavior credits and its current policy of releasing non-violent inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the shortened sentence.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephen was not happy about the news.

“This very early release is unconscionable,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement. “CDCR’s decision is re-victimizing the family and friends of the four people killed and seven injured who have been devastated by their loss and continue to deal with the financial, emotional, mental and physical trauma caused by the defendant. This inmate continues to deny and minimize the crime by refusing to admit he was speeding and denying being impaired while arguing with his girlfriend on the phone, which resulted in the devastating crash,” Stephen added.

Prosecutors at the trial argued Sepolio had been drinking before driving, and that he was having a heated argument with his girlfriend leading up to the crash. Sepolio admitted he tried to merge in front of another vehicle and lost control of his truck. Police estimate he was driving between 81 and 87 miles per hour on the curving on-ramp when he lost control.

The four people killed in the accident were: Annamarie Contreras, 50, and Cruz Contreras, 52, a married couple from Chandler, Arizona; and Andre Banks, 49, and Francine Jimenez, 46, from Hacienda Heights. Seven other people were seriously injured. Most of the people at the park at the time of the accident, including the victims, were from the Los Angeles area and had come to San Diego for an event at Chicano Park.