16-year-old accused of killing 4 in New Year’s Day crash denied bond

MIAMI (WSVN) - A judge has denied bond for the teenage driver accused of killing four people in a crash on New Year’s Day in West Miami-Dade.

On Friday morning, 16-year-old Alex Garcia was denied bond after appearing in court.

Police allege Garcia was high and drunk when his SUV crashed into another vehicle while traveling over 100 mph, killing all four occupants inside.

“I had never witnessed anything that horrific,” one responding officer said. “The front of vehicle one was embedded in the side of vehicle two.”

Twenty-one-year-old Yuhlia Gelats Barzaga, her boyfriend, 22-year-old Christian Mohip, and their friends, 21-year-old Andres Zacarias and 21-year-old Jenser Salazar were killed instantly. A roadside memorial for the victims has been vandalized twice.

Bodycam footage recently released showed Garcia apparently trapped inside an SUV along West Flagler Street and 79th Avenue in the early morning hours of Jan. 1.

In court, the judge said Garcia’s charges make him a risk to society and suggested a mental evaluation and substance abuse evaluation.

“This court is not convinced that he will follow the rules and act in conformity with the laws,” said the judge. “As with four counts of DUI manslaughter, on each of those counts, Mr. Garcia will be held no bond.”

Brian Kirle, Garcia’s attorney, pleaded for his client’s release until trial, arguing the 16-year-old does not have a criminal history.

“While the speed of this case and the fatalities are absolutely tragic and outside of the scope we normally see, on the flip side to that, we do not have the same signs of impairment,” Kirle said. “We do not have the same driving record. We do not have the same prior offenses, which, I think, mitigates it down.”

Prosecutors revealed when the crash happened, Garcia did not have a license.

“The defendant possessed a learner’s permit for less than four months when he killed the victims in this case,” prosecutor Genevieve Valle said. “That is extraordinary. That is remarkable. He doesn’t have a driving record because he barely knew how to drive. He was a student driver who took a ride and reaped massive devastation on our community.”

Andrew Delgado, Garcia’s family member, spoke on the 16-year-old’s behalf in court.

“He’s always behaved well,” Delgado said. “I guess the disbelief is that this happened, and my condolences go to the family.”

Garcia will be back in court on July 15 for another hearing. His trial is set for July 26.

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