A grand jury has upgraded charges against a Long Beach man accused of driving drunk, striking a 15-year-old girl and then dragging her behind his car for 600 feet, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Monday.
German Gutierrez, 59, was driving his 2002 Jeep Liberty east on East Beech Street, without his headlights on, around 9 p.m. back on Sept. 3, 2012, prosecutors said. Investigators said Gutierrez drove straight through a stop sign at the intersection of Edwards Blvd., striking a 15-year-old girl who was walking her bicycle down the road. After striking the teenage girl, prosecutors allege Gutierrez continued to drive along East Beech Street, pinning the victim beneath her bicycle and dragging her body along the roadway for more than 600 feet.
As the young girl fell from the pinned position, Gutierrez continued to drive under the influence of alcohol, when he allegedly struck a parked car and drove on a sidewalk before coming to a stop in the street and falling out of the driver’s seat of his Jeep, prosecutors said.
When police and emergency service workers responded to the scene, Gutierrez told officers that he had consumed “like, a thousand drinks” and told an officer that he didn’t technically kill anyone, a DA’s news release said. When his blood-alcohol-content was read, nearly 5 hours after the incident, prosecutors said he had a .30% BAC, nearly four times the legal limit.
The victim, who was identified by her family as Sara Colletti, suffered road rash injuries to the left side of her body, causing her knee and elbow joints to be exposed, the DA’s office said. She required extensive skin grafts, which have resulted in permanent scarring and also suffered an injury to the tendons on her left hand that may require surgery, according to a news release.
“The physical injuries and permanent scars this young girl has suffered are horrific, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological toll of trying to stay alive while being dragged under a moving car for 600 feet,” Rice said. “For this defendant to drive with that amount of alcohol in his system is unthinkable, and he will be held accountable for the incredible danger he posed that night.”
Gutierrez was indicted on a multitude of additional charges, including first-degree and second-degree assault, aggravated vehicular assault, first-degree vehicular assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, aggravated driving while intoxicated and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. Gutierrez was already charged with second-degree vehicular assault, leaving the scene of an accident with serious physical injury and misdemeanor DWI.
Gutierrez’s attorney, Kevin Connolly, could not be reached for comment. He is due back in court on Feb. 7 and if convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.