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Driver sentenced to 60 days after pleading guilty to drunk driving misdemeanor charges for fatal October crash

| Tuesday, June 29, 2021

This report was updated July 8 at 7:58 p.m.

The driver of the vehicle involved in the October crash that killed two Notre Dame students and left one injured pleaded guilty earlier this month to two misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Justin Cavallo, 26, of South Bend, was charged in January with operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration above 0.08 and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. On Thursday, Cavallo was sentenced to 60 days in prison and led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He will spend the next 30 days in jail and then be placed on probation for 335 days. 

These charges stemmed from the Oct. 24, 2020, crash on the 54000 block of Ironwood Road in which first-year students Valeria Espinel and Olivia Laura Rojas were killed and sophomore Eduardo Jose Elias Calderon was injured.

Cavallo is facing up to 120 days in prison and a $500 fine for the misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated.

A childhood friend of Rojas started a Change.org petition in March, advocating for higher charges for Cavallo. Over 20,000 people had signed the petition as of Tuesday.

The St. Joseph County Fatal Crash Team (FACT) cited “pedestrian’s action” as the primary cause of the collision. “Alcoholic beverages” were also cited as a contributing factor to the crash.

Cavallo’s blood alcohol content was 0.13 the day of the crash, according to the Tribune

After Cavallo’s collision with the students, Darlene Holden of South Bend struck Espinel, who was lying in the street, with her Chevrolet Impala. Holden has not been charged, according to the Tribune.

A FACT report states that Cavallo’s vehicle sharply turned left and struck a house after hitting the three students. The owner of the house damaged by Cavallo’s vehicle, Joshua McGlothlen, has filed a civil lawsuit against Cavallo. Rojas’ parents have also reportedly filed a separate civil lawsuit.

Cavallo is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

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