Man sentenced for fatal DUI crash that killed Spokane teen
SPOKANE, Wash. — The man responsible for a drunk driving crash that killed a 16-year-old boy and left another severely injured pleaded guilty in court Thursday.
According to police, Ramiro Sanchez was under the influence, with a BAC of .11, when he caused a crash with a vehicle driven by Bailey Roach on Highway 395 in June of 2016.
Roach was killed at the scene. His passenger, 16-year-old Taigen Balbi, was life-flighted to Sacred Heart where he spent weeks in a coma. In court Thursday, Taigen’s father, Rick Balbi, revealed it was weeks before Balbi was able to walk again.
As the sentencing hearing began, prosecutors told they judge they were requesting Sanchez be sentenced to 95 months in prison. However, after listening to witnesses and family share their stories, the judge handed down a sentence of 125 months.
Sanchez was found guilty of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. The sentences will run concurrently. Sanchez will also have to spend 18 months in community custody once he is released and undergo chemical dependency treatment.
Several people shared how this tragedy has affected their lives, including the woman who tried to save Bailey, and saw him take his last breath. “This young man was going to die, and I just could not save him. I couldn’t,” she said.
Several statements were also read, including one written by Taigen’s sister Elaine Balbi. Balbi told Sanchez she would never forgive him for causing this tragedy, adding “You are worthless and will never have worth in this world.”
Rick Balbi also shared how the two teens had become friends. He explained that Taigen, after learning to ride a bike, wanted to ride around the block. When he returned home, Bailey was with him, and he said the two had been inseparable ever since. Balbi also said he was thankful to get a second chance with Taigen, but felt guilty in being thankful, as the Roach family would never get that opportunity.
The family expressed several times they were disappointed that Sanchez had not reached out to apologize since the crash. Tonight, he has the opportunity to do so. Through tears, Sanchez said he accepted responsibility for driving drunk and apologized to his families and the families of the victims.
After hearing everyone speak, Judge Michael Price decided to not follow the state’s recommendation, and handed down the maximum sentence he could. He also choked back tears as he explained how his mother was killed in a plane crash, flown by a pilot who was unfamiliar with the aircraft, but chose to fly anyway.
After the court hearing, Bailey’s family said they were happy with the sentence. His father, Bob Roach, also said he wanted to thank the community for the support the family has received through this ordeal.
While Taigen was fighting for his life in the hospital, several community events were held to raise money for the teens’ families. It also sparked the hashtag “Live 4 Bay, Pray 4 Taig.”
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