Letter: Wife of 49 years killed on Mother’s Day

On May 12, 2019 (Mother’s Day), my wife, Kathryn Garges (67 years old), and whom I shared 49 years of marriage with, along with her best friend, Diana Whitfield (75 years old), were tragically killed by a drunk driver who was about three times the legal drinking limit. The drunk driver, Sergio Delfino Mendoza-Sanchez, was driving 71 mph when he ran the stop sign on Road 60 and Avenue 228 in Tulare, California and plowed into my wife, Kathryn and Diana. When he slammed into their car at 6:15pm they flew 250 feet into the field adjacent to the intersection. Sergio Delfino Mendoza-Sanchez was able to hop out of his window unharmed; my wife and her best friend died, trapped in their vehicle upside down, smashed between crushed metal and dead grass. Paramedics were unable to extricate them from their vehicle until after 10:30pm, four hours later, as we watched in despair alongside the wreckage.

We need your support and help for their story to go mainstream, as we need to put a stop to this kind of recklessness.  As of right now, he is ONLY looking at a bail amount of $250,000.  Sergio Delfino Mendoza-Sanchez has two (2) previous infractions against him. These infractions include, driving without a license in Hanford, California in 2017 and another this year in 2019 in Visalia, California which included speeding.  Now, he is looking at the following charges:

  1. PC 191.5(a) gross vehicular manslaughter
  2. PC 191.5(a) gross vehicular manslaughter
  3. VC 23153(a) DUI while causing injury
  4. Special allegation PC12022.7(c) 70 years or older
  5. Special allegation PC12022.7(b) great bodily injury
  6. Special allegation VC 23558 multiple victim
  7. VC 23153(a) DUI while causing injury
  8. Special allegation PC12022.7(c) 70 years or older
  9. Special allegation PC12022.7(b) great bodily injury
  10. Special allegation VC 23558 multiple victim
  11. Driving without license VC 12500(a)

Counts 1-4 are felonies, count 5 is a misdemeanor

Potential sentencing:

  • Count 1: 4, 6 or 10 years
  • Count 2: 4, 6 or 10 years
  • Count 3: 2, 3, or 4 years
    • Spec Alleg 1: 3 or 5
    • Spec Alleg 2: 1, 3, or 6 years
    • Spec Alleg 3: 1 year
  • Count 4: 2, 3, or 4 years
    • Spec Alleg 1: 3 or 5 years
    • Spec Alleg 2: 1, 3, or 6 years
    • Spec Alleg 3: 1 year
  • Count 5: 6 months to 1 year

Sergio Delfino Mendoza-Sanchez may be convicted of manslaughter under counts 1 and 2 and if convicted of count 5, he could be convicted of DUI causing injury under counts 3 and 4 and he may be convicted of count 5. Counts 3 and 4 are in the alternative to counts 1 and 2. So, without enhancements, just under a manslaughter conviction, if the court were to sentence him to the maximum, it could be 10 years for each person. If the judge runs those consecutively, that is 20 years.

My children and grandchildren along with Diana Whitfield’s children and grandchildren now get to grow up in this world without their mothers and grandmothers. We will never be able to gather for another Mother’s Day with them and although, nothing we do will ever bring them back, we will still honor them by making their names known. People need to learn that there are consequences for their actions. With your help, we can send this message and remind our community how precious life is. We will always remember Kathryn Garges and Diana Whitfield, my wife, our mothers, and grandmothers.

Thank you for your time.

3 thoughts on “Letter: Wife of 49 years killed on Mother’s Day

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  1. Well said. Our hearts go out to you. You are in our prayers every day. Kathy and Diane were great people and I hope justice will be served.

    • Anyone driving drunk and killing or injuring another person should be charged with murder or attempted murder

  2. I survived a head-on wreck a few years ago. The drunk who hit me was a wrong-way driver on Highway 65. Double fatality, lots of carnage. The drunk driver who hit me tested at time of death at three times the legal limit; if he had lived he would almost certainly have been convicted of his FOURTH felony drunk driving, all with serious injuries to others.

    In this case, as double death, in my opinion there is not purpose in pretending the public interest should be “rehabilitation” – rather, it should be “Correction” – and this a very long sentence to dissuade anyone else from thinking they can plead for mercy after being convicted of a DUI with injuries.

    One, the families have to show up at trial and sentencing and demand a vigorous sentence.
    Two, with this state’s tendency to do early releases, 20 years can easily become 10 with good behavior, and so on.

    Mr. Garges, my prayers will be remember your family and Ms. Whitfield’s family.

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