Fresno family torn apart by teenage DUI driver who killed a father

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A family torn apart by an underage driver under the influence had their day in court as the teenager will go to prison for his crime.

"One moment we were talking and laughing, the next we had been slammed into the middle of an intersection," said Danielle Brown, whose husband, 35-year-old Carlos Ortega, died in the DUI crash near Ashlan and Cornelia in December 2017.

Ortega and his family were just a couple blocks away from home when the crash rocked their world and took away their foundation.

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The consequences have been enormous.

From the moment the flares went up, a family's life burned down.

"Every day we are reminded of Carlos' absence," Danielle Brown said.

"The empty spot on the sofa, the vacant chair at the dinner table, the absence of a once familiar voice and the daily story about work shenanigans he would share when he got home. No more hugs, no more phone calls just because, no more time to be shared period because he's gone."

Ortega and his family had almost gotten home from a birthday party for a teenage son when the impaired driver ran a red light and hit them. His kids watched firefighters pry him out of the car and found out he died hours later.

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Witnesses say the other driver -- an 18-year-old who had alcohol, pot, and Xanax in his system -- tried to wander away.

Police caught the teenager and arrested him, and on Monday he didn't say Ortega's name, but he apologized to the survivors.

"I just want to let them know that I am sorry for taking their loved one's life," said Thomas de la Pena.

Ortega's widow says her sons aren't the same now and the damage extends to the rest of his family as well.

"The defendant, whose name to this day I can't say, didn't just take Carlos' life," said Elizabeth Alanis, Ortega's sister-in-law. "He took all the lives as we knew it. He robbed my family of the lives we once had because he made a choice."

A judge sentenced the intoxicated driver to six years in prison on his manslaughter conviction.
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