NORFOLK, Va. – Juan Franklin Ramirez-Urrea, 20, was sentenced Friday to seven active years in prison for driving drunk and fatally striking 23-year-old Dontae Barlow, who was changing a tire on the shoulder of Interstate 64.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 27, Mr. Ramirez-Urrea was traveling westbound on I-64 when he veered onto the right shoulder and struck Mr. Barlow. Mr. Barlow had pulled over near the Norview Avenue exit and was rolling a tire down the shoulder in the opposite direction of traffic. Mr. Ramirez-Urrea — whose blood-alcohol concentration was .20, over twice the legal limit — drifted onto the shoulder, ran over Mr. Barlow, overcorrected left, and crashed into the left jersey wall. Witnesses who had been driving behind Mr. Ramirez-Urrea pulled over to assist both him and Mr. Barlow, but Mr. Barlow was pronounced dead upon the arrival of paramedics.
Mr. Ramirez-Urrea told officers he had been drinking in Virginia Beach before getting behind the wheel.
On Oct. 17, Mr. Ramirez-Urrea pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter from driving under the influence, as well as DUI.
On Friday, Judge Mary Jane Hall sentenced Mr. Ramirez-Urrea to serve seven active years in prison. The details of Mr. Ramirez-Urrea’s sentence include 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, for manslaughter, and one year suspended for DUI. Mr. Ramirez-Urrea’s suspended sentences are conditioned upon two years of supervised probation and five years of uniform good behavior upon his release from prison. His license has also been suspended indefinitely.
"Drunk drivers kill people and put themselves in prison," said Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi. "Drunk driving is a crime, and it is totally preventable. Do not drink and drive. Protect the people around you. Drink responsibly. Use designated drivers, taxis, and ride shares. Do not kill someone over a night out. You cannot undo these crimes, and the people who pay the heaviest price are the people you kill."
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Melinda F. Seemar prosecuted Mr. Ramirez-Urrea’s case on behalf of the Commonwealth.