Driver convicted of fatal-wrong way wreck sentenced to 7 years in prison

MIAMI (WSVN) - A man convicted of a deadly wrong way wreck on Interstate 95 that killed a daughter and left a son wheelchair bound has been sentenced to seven years behind bars.

Several family members and friends of the Criales were in court Friday and made emotional pleas to the judge for justice.

Twenty-three-year-old Carmen Criales was killed in that head-on crash and her brother, Bryan, is now in a wheelchair and is unable to speak due to injuries from the crash back in December 2015.

The defendant, 24-year-old Franklin Chavez, had to listen to the multiple statements from the victims’ loved ones.

“I didn’t have a word to call my brother and tell him my niece was dead,” said the victim’s uncle, David. “I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her.”

The 911 call played in court forced the family to relive the tragic event. “Never, never in my life [would I think] I’d see my son this way,” said the father of victims, Noel Criales.

According to investigators, Chavez was driving south in the northbound lanes along I-95 when he crashed into the Criales family’s vehicle.

On Friday, the family and the victim’s co-workers asked for justice to be done.

“I know that placing the guilty defendant in jail won’t bring Carmen back or make my fiancé talk again or walk or live a normal life, but I do seek justice for all of them,” said Bryan’s fiancée, Ermani.

“Life is so precious. In an instant, our beautiful Carmen was gone,” said a family friend.

Chavez was sentenced to serve a minimum sentence of seven years in state prison and eight years probation.

“This man killed me,” the victim’s father said. “This man destroyed my daughter’s life. It should be for the rest of his life in jail.”

The defense made their final argument to the judge and claimed that Chavez suffers from PTSD, which is why he made his poor decision. “I couldn’t imagine after going through nine years of sexual abuse that these are the types of things that we would hear,” said defense attorney Andrew Parks. “It makes perfectly good sense.”

But it was insufficient for the Criales family, and they said they left feeling defeated. “You killed my daughter,” the victim’s father said to Chavez. “You killed my dreams.”

In his final message to the family, Chavez broke down on the stand. “Regrettably sorry for taking the life of your girl,” he said in tears.

The prosecution said they originally asked for a 20-year prison sentence, but the judge decided on seven.

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