FORT LAUDERDALE — Six-year-old Santiago Mondragon was in the back seat of his mother’s car when a impaired, speeding driver crashed into them, splitting their car and killing the child.
Thursday, Broward County Judge Tim Bailey sentenced Jordan Loyd Fuss, 22, of Davie, to 14 years and six months in state prison.
Fuss, 19 years old at the time of the collision, was found guilty of DUI and DUI manslaughter with grievous bodily harm.
Fuss knew he was going to jail that afternoon. In response to questions from attorney Patrick Curry, he testified that he had committed a crime and said there was a time when he wanted to take his own life.
“19-year-olds make a big mistake that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives,” Curry said, while asking the judge for “justice, not just punishment.”
Fuss, who works for a family business, cried often during the three-hour hearing in the courtroom with dozens of relatives and friends of each family in tears.
“I’m so sorry, I wish it was me,” Fuss told Santiago’s family. “He doesn’t deserve it. I do. I would give my life if it meant bringing him back. I’m really sorry.”
As midnight approached on October 3, 2014, Fuss’ Infiniti sedan was traveling between 92 and 108 mph in a 45 mph area on Stirling and Davie roads. According to the police report, his blood alcohol level was 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08.
Fuss spent 30 to 60 minutes before the crash playing a drinking game with playing cards, called Ring of Fire, while drinking Captain Morgan Black Spiced rum.
Fuss drove with a friend to another friend’s house. He testified that he did not remember speeding, which was caught on camera running a red light and reported in witness testimony to police.
He also said that he doesn’t remember the accident. Prosecutor Patricia Abdi said he sat on the curb, not calling 911 or checking on passengers for broken femurs or victims.
“He chose to drink that night, get behind the wheel, go through the intersection and kill this boy,” Abdi said.
Fuss and his relatives apologized to Santiago’s parents, Nancy Giraldo and Gustavo Mondragon, who both testified through an interpreter about their deep grief.
“He has to pay for what he did, and this can be an example for young people drinking on the street, like him,” Mondragon said while asking the judge for the maximum sentence. “You not only took my son’s life, but mine as well. I’m a walking dead man. God forgive you, for I can’t.”
Giraldo said she thanked God for giving her “Santi” for “six wonderful years” and described how she woke the boy to school with small kisses.
Now, she said, “let’s go to the cemetery.”
Fuss covered his face as a portrait of a brown-eyed boy with a sweet smile was placed on the easel.
Curry and Fuss’s parents and friends called him “deeply remorseful”, “possibly redeemable”, and said he had struggled with depression, was himself acted upon by Baker, and intended to kill himself. death.
Abdi points to seven Facebook posts by Fuss from the age of 14 that describe drinking, getting drunk and smoking marijuana, and she says he drank last Christmas.
Prosecutor Michael Horowitz told the court that while Fuss was released on bail and his criminal case was pending, Fuss reported using marijuana in October 2016.
At sentencing, Bailey said: “There couldn’t be a better example of how he received the text and how it would have changed him forever if he had stopped abusing alcohol after that incident.”
But Fuss told an investigator before sentencing that he drank heavily in the year after the crash, Bailey said.
“The court found the evidence did not support [reduction],” the judge said.
“There’s been a lot of talk from the young man’s family, from Jordan’s family, about his psychological makeup, talking about suicide and depression and how they believe he could be,” Bailey said. redeemable. “The purpose of prison is to punish. That sounds cold, that sounds despicable, it’s Florida law. I don’t put a young man in jail to rehabilitate him.”
He said he was not indifferent to the family’s concerns about Fuss’ mental health.
“If I had an obligation to deal with that, I wouldn’t have sent him to jail,” Bailey said.
In addition to the 14 years and 6 months in prison with five years of probation, Bailey ordered the permanent revocation of Fuss’ driver’s license, damages to the victims and 100 hours of community service.
“I wish you luck, Mr. Fuss,” Bailey said.
When a bailiff handcuffed Fuss, he waved to his family and called out to his girlfriend, “I love you, honey!”