Deadly DUI Driver Apologizes to Victims' Families

October 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Hanford woman is headed to prison, but not before a heartfelt apology to the families of two people she killed while driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Linda Fairbanks, 64, has been in jail since the crash on Highway 43 last November.

Fairbanks makes no bones about it: She made a horrible decision when she drove after receiving Dilaudid during surgery. And her bad judgment led her to kill Jorge Perez and his 4-year-old stepdaughter, Jayla Sanchez.

Jorge Perez was just doing what he came naturally. He was being a good uncle.

"He loved us so much," said his young nephew Andres Tirado. "He came to every one of our birthday parties."

Tirado's 10th birthday party was the destination Perez and his 4-year-old stepdaughter Jayla never reached. Instead, Linda Fairbanks veered into oncoming traffic and killed them, driving a dark cloud of tragedy over the celebration.

"I remember having to tell his son Isaac his father was dead and wouldn't come home," said brother-in-law Juan Tirado.

For 11 months, the family has lived with their grief and held on to the happy memories. Fairbanks sat in jail for the first time in her life, reflecting on her deadly decision.

"I know my actions shattered hopes and dreams," she told the Perez family Friday. "I've taken something from you I can never replace."

Fairbanks never asked for mercy, but two evaluators said she should get probation instead of prison because of her age and lack of criminal record. Through their tears Friday, the victims' family begged the judge for a significant punishment.

"Please don't let my brother and Jayla die in vain," said Jorge's sister, Leticia Perez. "Please help us. Please help me."

The judge gave her a six-year sentence, the maximum under a plea deal. It was the best possible outcome to a terrible situation for the Perez family.

Jorge and Jayla will live on only in pictures. And everyone involved is stuck with scarring memories.

"Just know for what it's worth that you'll be forever in my prayers," Fairbanks said. "This isn't something I can just walk away from. Please know that."

Fairbanks will be eligible for parole in early 2018.


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