Man sentenced to 64 years in crash that left 7-year-old girl paralyzed

BRIGHTON, Colo. — A man was sentenced to 64 years in prison on Friday after stealing a car and getting behind the wheel drunk, led a high-speed chase and crashed into a vehicle that left a 7-year-old girl paralyzed, the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said.

David Jesse James Alva, who turns 25 on Saturday, was sentenced for vehicular assault DUI and first-degree assault with extreme indifference.

“The actions of Mr. Alva demonstrate the extreme dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol in our communities,” District Attorney Dave Young said. “This sentence is a strong message that this will not be tolerated in the justice system.”

Alva had a history of stealing cars, burglary and vehicular eluding and was out on bond in another case when he fled from police in a stolen car, driving 80 mph in a 30 mph zone and slamming into 40-year-old Sandra Mendoza’s car on Feb. 6.

Jamile Hernandez, now 8, was hospitalized for three months and left paralyzed. Acuna-Mendoza, 40, suffered a broken pelvis and ribs, a fractured spine, and lacerated liver and spleen.

Alva was called a “public safety hazard” and “one-man crime spree” during the sentencing hearing.

Alva had been smoking methamphetamine and marijuana all day Feb. 6 when he sped through a stop sign at 68th Avenue and Pecos Street at 80 mph with his lights off about 7:30 p.m., plowing into Mendoza’s vehicle, the district attorney’s office said.

She was heading home from a funeral with her daughter in the back seat when they were broadsided by Alva’s speeding Nissan Xterra.

Alva fled from police because he knew there was a warrant for his arrest, prosecutors said.