LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A 23-year-old woman will spend the next 15 to 18 years behind bars for a drunk-driving crash that claimed the lives of two Lakewood 19-year-olds in February, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.
In August, the defendant, Selena Colon, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of aggravated vehicular assault and one count of driving under the influence.
The crash happened on Feb. 21, 2021 near Clifton and Fry Avenues in Lakewood.
According to authorities, Colon was driving under the influence, didn't have her headlights on and was doing 90 mph in a 35 mph zone. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.137 when taken at the hospital six hours after the crash and believed to have been double that when the crash occurred.
Colon was driving east on Clifton Avenue when she crashed into a Subaru that was turning west onto Clifton Avenue from Fry Avenue, authorities said.
The impact of the crash split the Subaru in half, ejecting both passengers. The driver of that Subaru, 19-year-old Max Close, and a 19-year-old passenger, Alejandro Mercado, died at the scene. An 18-year-old passenger who police said was riding in the front seat was also injured.
“I was very wrong and I should not have made the decision to drive,” said Colon at her sentencing.
Members of the Mercado and Close families gave victim’s impact statements, pleading with the judge to hand Colon the maximum penalty for her crimes, which is 25 years in prison.
“It felt like a nightmare that we're not able to wake up from. The words are still embedded in our heads like it was yesterday,” said Johany Mercado, Alejandro Mercado’s mom.
“She said that she wishes she could go back and undo it, and that is infuriating because it was entirely within her control to not do it in the first place, this wasn't something that just happened,” said Sara Close, Max Close’s mom.
Prosecutors also read a statement from the surviving victim of the crash before Colon and her brother addressed the court asking for forgiveness.
“Over these months she’s been very depressed and dealing with this and not once was it made about her or the time she was going to serve or anything along those lines. It was all about the lives she took that day and the poor decisions she made that day,” said Anthony Reyes, Colon’s brother.
“I’m just so sorry to everybody because nobody deserves this,” said Colon.
But those sentiments did little to comfort both families as they mourn the loss of the two young men they say were caring, compassionate, and would never do anything to hurt anyone.
“Selena made a conscious decision to drink and drive. Irresponsible and reckless behavior like that needs to be deterred so that other families get spared the unspeakable grief that our family or friends have endured and continue to endure,” said Johany Mercado.
“I don't think she really cares about the words we forgive you. I think that she wants to be let off the hook. And I'm not ready to do that. The Mercados are not ready to do that,” said Sara Close.
"Driving under the influence is an inexcusable and avoidable decision which, in this case, cost the lives of two young men and severely injured a third minor passenger, perpetually impacting the lives of multiple families. Selena Colon was held accountable for her decision today," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O'Malley.
In addition to the prison sentence, Colon’s license will also be suspended for the rest of her life.
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