Vehicular manslaughter charge in double-fatal crash

Two men died when they crashed in SJ early this morning as they allegedly fled from the CHP.

September 21, 2010 5:07:10 PM PDT
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has filed a vehicular manslaughter charge against the driver of an SUV that crashed during a high-speed pursuit in downtown San Jose last week, killing two people.

Jose Hernandez, 19, of San Jose, faces two counts of eluding a peace officer and causing death, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, possession of methamphetamine, and driving with a suspended license, district attorney's office spokeswoman Amy Cornell said.

He is expected to plead to the charges on Sept. 28.

If convicted as charged, Hernandez could face up to 10 years and eight months in prison, Cornell said.

The pursuit began at about 1:25 a.m. Thursday when two San Jose-area California Highway Patrol officers on patrol approached Hernandez's green 2003 Ford Explorer because it was missing a front license plate.

Hernandez allegedly sped off, leading the officers on a pursuit through downtown and then losing control of the car and crashing into two parked cars at the intersection of East Saint James Street and North Sixth Street.

The impact killed two men in the rear of the car. They have been identified as San Jose residents Vicente Reza, 22, and Jose Varelas, 23.

Hernandez and a male passenger in the front seat were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Hernandez is in custody without bail.