Man sentenced for Tulare County DUI crash that killed best friends

Elisa Navarro Image
Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Two families are getting closure after learning the man who killed their loved ones in 2019 will stay behind bars for at least a decade.

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Mother's day in 2019, the lives of two families were impacted forever.

Two best friends, Diane Whitfield and Kathy Garges were killed after being hit by Sergio Mendoza Sanchez.

Police say he was drunk and blew a stop sign, crashing into Whitfield's car on State Route 137 and Road 60.

Wednesday morning, Sanchez learned his fate in court after family members like James Garges shared his impact statement.

"My kids and Diane's kids will never see their mother again," he said.

Sanchez received the maximum sentence -- 12 years in state prison.

Dave Alvazeso says while he is pleased with the sentence, he wishes the law could allow for more time.

"I can't imagine the family thinks this is a fair sentence given he took two lives," he said. "The thing that jumps out to me in reviewing the probation report and speaking to the prosecutor is lack of remorse in killing two people."

Action News spoke with family members who say while 12 years will never be enough, they understand and feel grateful for the District Attorney's Office's work on the case.

The Whitfield and Garges families also released this statement:

"This callous act will not stop us from remembering the impact they made on so many people. Their legacy of the lives they lived is present in all of us. Their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends are better for having had them in our lives."