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Drunken, wrong-way driver sentenced to 10 years in prison

Bryan Contreras killed David Hernandez in January 2016 crash

SAN ANTONIO – A drunken driver who killed a man in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 35 in January 2016 was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.

Bryan Contreras, who was 24 years old at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty in May to intoxication manslaughter for the death of David Hernandez, 29. 

Judge Kevin O'Connell's ruling came after a plea deal limited the possible maximum punishment to 12 years in prison instead of 20 years.

"There's no amount of time that would justify my brother's death -- that can justify his death. He needs to learn. He needs to understand that what he did, he broke a family apart," said Alberta Duran, Hernandez's sister, on the witness stand during Thursday's sentencing hearing.

Contreras had gotten a ride from a bar to a friend's house that night in January, but at some point afterward, he got into his truck and drove away, prosecutors said. 

He careened the wrong way down I-35, plowing into David Hernandez's truck near the Walters exit. Prosecutors said Contreras' blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was 0.19 percent  -- more than double the 0.08 limit in Texas.

"I never meant to do what I did. I mean, I promise I'm not a bad person and I'm really sorry," Contreras said while tearfully addressing Hernandez's family from the witness stand. "I promise if I could have traded places at that time, I would have."

Contreras's attorneys asked for probation, while prosecutors and Duran pushed back strongly for a prison sentence.

Duran said her family has suffered in the wake of Hernandez's death.

"He was our sunshine," she said of her brother. "He was the one who would make everyone laugh, everyone feel united. And without him, it's not the same. It's not the same."


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