Visalia man gets 99 years to life for fatal crash


Nearly nine months have passed since Diana Gomez lost her entire immediate family -- her father, Ruben, mother, Gloria, and only sibling, 17-year-old Ruben Mendoza Junior -- and still the pain of their loss brings her to tears. She said, "They were our family it was my whole family."

Gomez told defendant Erick Head that her two oldest children miss their grandparents, who they used to see every weekend. "She asks when her grandma, grandpa and Ruben are coming home and every day I have to tell her they're not coming," said Gomez.

/*Erick Head*/, 32, was convicted of three counts of second degree murder and three counts of evading a peace officer causing death. Back on March 31st, a Tulare County sheriff's deputy was attempting to pull him over on Highway 99. Instead, Head sped off, driving into Visalia and ultimately crashing into several cars at the intersection of Akers and Caldwell. One car carried the Mendoza family. The impact killed all three of them.

Judge Gerald Sevier handed down the harshest sentence he could -- 99 years to life in prison. Before the judge issued his sentence the defendant read a letter in court he had written to the family. In it, he apologized for his actions.

"Hard days are hard," said Head. "I do not even want to wake up."

Family members of the Mendoza's say while they appreciate his remorse, it will never bring back their beloved relatives.

Gloria Mendoza's mother, Mary Pena said, "She was so nice and her husband and their son, and it's so hard for us."

Gloria Mendoza's brother, Jimmy Pena said, "And this was because he was recklessly disobeying the laws and laws that we abide to."

Before Erick Head was taken away, he asked the family to visit him so he could apologize again.

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