JACKSON HEIGHTS — A Florida man was sentenced to up to eight years in prison after fatally striking a man crossing Roosevelt Avenue while driving drunk in 2014, according to the district attorney's office.
Romulo Mejia, 43, of Bradenton, Fla., swerved over double yellow lines, jumped a curb, and hit Fernando Dorado, 38, flinging his body 115 feet as he walked across the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 92nd Street at 4:30 a.m. on July 5, 2014, police said.
Mejia eventually crashed his rented red Ford Focus to a stop after hitting a parked car, police said. He stayed at the scene, where police said they found him with bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and alcohol on his breath.
He refused a breathalyzer test at the scene and later at the hospital. Police officers had to obtain a court-authorized warrant to administer the breathalyzer, the complaint said.
He pleaded guilty in September to a felony charge of criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated. Mejia was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison, the maximum under the law.
Investigators said Mejia was probably speeding far above the area's 30 mile per hour speed limit given the distance Dorado's body was flung from the crash scene, according to the DA's office.
Mejia's drivers license was also revoked for a year, which will go into effect once he gets out of prison. When he is eventually allowed back behind the wheel, he will have to install an ignition interlocking device, which tests his blood alcohol level every time he drives, for three years, prosecutors said.
DA Richard Brown pointed to a conviction in another drunk-driving case in Astoria last week, and said they show the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking.
"As I have often said, driving is a privilege, not a right, and extreme caution should – and must – be exercised at all times in order to prevent lives from being senselessly destroyed," he said in a statement.