Family of Fresno County crash victims address DUI suspect in court

Thursday, May 23, 2024
Family of Fresno County crash victims address DUI suspect in court
A Madera County man will be back in court in June to answer to murder charges stemming from a suspected DUI crash.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Madera County man will be back in court in June to answer to murder charges stemming from a suspected DUI crash.

54-year-old David Alvarado made an appearance in a Fresno County courtroom Wednesday morning.

He's charged with murder for his involvement in the crash on Highway 41 and Manning Avenue last Saturday.

In court, Alvarado wiped away tears as the victims' family spoke about the agonizing loss of their loved ones.

"Currently, there are 11 children who are now without parents. There are four sisters and two brothers without a beloved sister, as well as Pauls' family," said Kathleen Young, Mary's sister.

Authorities say Alvarado was speeding when he slammed his pick-up truck into the Hardins' car and another vehicle while they were at a stoplight.

Mary Hardin died at the scene on Saturday.

Her husband, Paul, passed away Monday after the family had to make the gut wrenching decision to take him off of life support.

"It's a comfort to know that he is with mom now and he's happy and in heaven doing what he wants to do," said the couple's son, Joseph Hardin.

Alvarado was restrained in shackles during his arraignment, which was continued to next month.

"Today, I am supposed to be in Utah attending my granddaughters dance recital," said Amy, Mary's sister, during the arraignment.

"Instead, I will be attending the funeral for my sister and her husband, my brother-in-law Paul."

Alvarado is facing eight charges, including two counts of murder, and two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while impaired with prior convictions.

Prosecutors say he was convicted of driving under the influence six times from 1997 to 2021.

Despite that, the Hardins' family members have expressed compassion.

"I feel like it would be my wish for my parents that he gets to feel love and he gets to feel forgiveness," said Ammon Hardin, Paul and Mary's son.

RELATED: Children of couple killed in crash find forgiveness for suspected drunk driver

However, they are asking for the maximum punishment to protect others on the road.

"I never want to have another family experience what we are experiencing right now," said Amy.

"The grief and sorrow that has been caused by the cruel and careless choices of someone else."

If he is found guilty, Alvarado may serve up to 30 years in prison. The judge set his bail at $2,7 million.

Now, as the pursuit of justice moves forward, the victims' family members are committed to keeping Paul and Mary's love for service and kindness alive.

"There are thousands of people who are mourning their loss at this time. They came to serve here as missionaries and they have ministered and served many people in this area and they will be greatly missed," said Kathleen.

Wednesday night, friends and family gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Caruthers for a celebration of life service for Paul and Mary.

The Hardins moved to the Fresno area in January, determined to serve the community and help as many people as they could.

It didn't go unnoticed.

"They wanted to work, serve. They did not want to waste any time. They wanted to get to know the community as quickly as they could and that's exactly what they did," said Jeffrey Davis, the president of California Fresno Mission.

Alvarado is currently being held on over $2.7 million bail and is due back in court on June 6.

If convicted, he faces five years plus 30 years to life in prison.

For news updates, follow Vince Ybarra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates, follow Nic Garcia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.