Drunk driver who killed teenager sentenced to 13 years in prison

EL PASO, Texas - The man accused of driving drunk and killing a teenager was sentenced to 13 years in prison Thursday.

Julian Tapia pleaded guilty to Intoxicated Manslaughter with a Vehicle and Intoxicated Assault with a Vehicle Causing Serious Bodily Harm.

The crash happened January 18, 2014 on the 9300 block of North Loop. Patricia Hernandez, 40, was driving with her son and daughter on North Loop when their Chevy Suburban was hit from behind by a 2009 Ford F-150 driven by Tapia.

An El Paso Police affidavit states witnesses said Tapia was driving at speeds between 70 and 100 mph on that stretch of North Loop when he collided into the SUV, killing 13-year-old Pablo Hernandez.

A witness at the scene told police he "observed the defendant to appear to be intoxicated and the defendant admitted to the witness to having been speeding and drinking prior to the crash," according to the affidavit.

A police officer at the scene "observed the defendant to have signs of intoxication." The officer was not able to conduct field sobriety tests on Tapia because he was transported to the hospital.

The DWI Taskforce took a sample of Tapia's blood at the hospital. The sample was to be sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety for analysis.

Pablo Hernandez and his 15-year-old sister, Isabel Hernandez, were transported to a hospital, where Pablo died from his injuries.

Isabel was critically injured in the wreck. She was in a coma for weeks, spent months in physical therapy, and had to learn how to walk and function again.

Isabel has since graduated high school and plans to study psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso.

"I want to help people who've gone through what I've gone through. It's really tough emotionally, almost more than physically," she said. "And it carries on long after the incident's happened. I would really like to help people who go through that."

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