Man who fled to Mexico after deadly DUI crash sentenced to prison

Posted at 8:24 AM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 11:30:25-04

AURORA, Colo. — A man was sentenced to prison after fleeing to Mexico following a 2014 deadly DUI crash in Aurora.

Elias Bautista-Lopez, 30, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday in connection to a vehicular homicide involving a DUI from four years ago. The head-on crash left a woman dead.

Bautista-Lopez fled to Mexico after the crash and returned to the United States in 2017, where he was arrested on an unrelated charge in Wisconsin. He was then extradited back to Colorado to face charges in the DUI case and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in August.

On Aug. 24, 2014, Bautista-Lopez had been driving the wrong way on E. Colfax Avenue near Macon Street in the early hours of the morning without his headlights on. He crashed head-on into a Hyundai Sonata driven by 32-year-old Carla Gronert, who died of her injuries.

Bautista-Lopez had been arrested for a DUI twice in the months before the crash and was driving with a revoked license.

Officers who responded to the crash said he was slurring his speech and that they could smell alcohol on him. His blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

Under a plea agreement, Bautista-Lopez faced a sentence of four to 12 years. Chief Deputy District Attorney Patrick Costigan asked for the maximum sentence, citing the aggravated circumstances of the crime and failure to take responsibility.

“The defendant’s decision to get behind the wheel after getting drunk cost Ms. Carla Gronert her life,” Costigan said at the sentencing hearing. “He left a bar off of Colfax Avenue, failed to turn on his headlights, drove the wrong way down Colfax, and collided with Ms. Gronert’s vehicle head on. Mr. Gronert was in ICU for 24 days before she passed away from the injuries sustained in the crash. Mr. Bautista had a blood alcohol level of .188. At the time of this crash, Mr. Bautista had pending DUI charges out of Arapahoe County from three months prior.”

Bautista-Lopez still faces charges in Arapahoe County from his 2014 case there.