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Sunnyside man sentenced to four months for vehicular assault conviction

YAKIMA - Leopoldo Pena Rojas, 61, of Sunnyside was last Friday sentenced to four months in jail for a Nov. 26, 2009 car crash that resulted in injury to three women.

He was charged with vehicular assault after causing the crash at the intersection of East Lincoln Avenue and South 16th Street in Sunnyside.

Sunnyside police say Rojas had fallen asleep at the wheel. A citizen at the scene had observed Rojas behind the wheel, sleeping. That citizen attempted to render assistance at the scene of the crash immediately following the crash.

The officer responding to the scene of the accident said he noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from Rojas when investigating the crash, which was believed to have been the result of Rojas running a red traffic signal and broadsiding a second vehicle.

"I also noticed that his eyes were droopy and bloodshot and speech thick and slurred," the officer noted in his investigation report.

The occupants of the vehicle Rojas crashed into were injured, according to the officer.

He said Anel Vargas, who is now 23; Dominga Bonilla, currently 65-years-old, and 20-year-old Yaricza Vargas all sustained injuries.

The younger of the Vargas' sustained the most severe injuries as a result of the collision. Medical records, say police, revealed she had a broken clavicle.

Rojas' vehicle struck a utility pole after colliding with the vehicle that was occupied by the three women. The "jaws of life" were used to extricate him from his vehicle, according to police.

Rojas was read his Miranda rights and advised he would be subjected to blood analysis to determine whether or not he was driving under the influence of alcohol.

Paramedics withdrew blood samples, according to police, and those samples were sent to the Washington State Patrol toxicology lab for analysis.

It was a month later that the results were returned to the Sunnyside Police Department, showing Rojas' blood alcohol level was .26, which is well above the legal limit of .08.

The police department forwarded requested charges of vehicular assault under the influence to the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office. After nearly two years of court proceedings, Rojas pled guilty in Yakima County Superior Court on Sept. 28, 2012.

He was sentenced to four months in jail last Friday and will be remanded to community custody for 12 months.

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