Pastor Forgives Undocumented Immigrant At Fault for Crash That Killed Daughter
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Efrain Lopez-Contreras, who pleaded guilty in connection to a deadly 2015 Christmas Eve crash, was sentenced Tuesday to six to 18 years in prison. Lopez-Contreras previously pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter assault and aggravated DWI.
Prosecutors maintained that Lopez-Contreras entered the country illegally following a previous deportation on a DWI conviction out of Orleans County in 2010. Five years later, Lopez-Contreras had a blood-alcohol content of nearly three times the legal limit when he crossed the center line and hit a car head-on in Clarkson.
Giana Bartolucci, 14, was in the other car and she and her father, Pastor Tony Bartolucci, were both injured in the crash. Giana died six months after the crash, from complications during surgery.
"I cry every single day. I cried every day for over a year sometimes, sometimes racked with sobs," Bartolucci said.
The pastor sat with more than a dozen friends and church members in court during the sentencing. He suffered serious injuries in that crash, has vision loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, but most of all, his heart cries out for his daughter.
"She never made it back and I am having a hard time with that, very much," he said. "We take things so much for granted and that is why I tell people, you never know. You never know when you are going to breathe your last breath."
Tony wore Giana's picture near his heart in her honor in court. Inside, he spoke about what a wonderful girl she was; a tremendous daughter, smart and sensitive to others.
He also did what many could never do. He told Lopez-Contreras that he and his wife forgive him. He even wanted to hug him, buy the judge declined.
"If it wasn't for my hope in Christ and my understanding of the Christian worldview and good theology, I would be very vindictive, but that is not who I am anymore," he said.
Lopez-Contreras stood in court with his head down and appeared to weep. He would go on to tell the Bartolucci family, in Spanish and through an interpreter, that he is sorry and has regret and guilt. Lopez-Contreras faces deportation to Mexico after his term is up.
Tony says Giana's name means "God is gracious". He said her book was not left unfinished. It was complete. Fourteen chapters, 14 years and God called her home.