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Riverview man accused of DUI manslaughter in death of 15-year-old brother

RIVERVIEW — His family thought the fatal crash was behind them.

Eight months had passed since 15-year-old Nativada Cervantes was killed in a crash after his brother Cesar, 24, lost control of the truck he was driving.

The family gathered and grieved and tried to move on with their lives.

But the tragedy wasn't over yet.

On Sunday, Cesar Cervantes was arrested in connection with his brother's death. The Florida Highway Patrol said Cesar was drunk when he crashed his truck the day after Christmas.

"We were surprised all right," said his brother Gabriel Cervantes, 18. "It just surprised us, honestly."

His mother was bawling, he said, and his father was in shock.

"My dad couldn't believe it because he thought all this was behind us already."

Cesar Cervantes faces charges of driving under the influence manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and DUI with serious injury. He was being held in the Hillsborough County jail in lieu of $72,500 bail.

Cesar Cervantes had a blood-alcohol content of 0.161, the Highway Patrol said. That is more than twice the level at which Florida law presumes impairment.

His only other driving infraction was a seat belt violation in 2006. He had never been arrested in Florida.

Sgt. Larry Kraus, a Highway Patrol spokesman, said it's not uncommon for investigations of this nature to take so long. DNA and toxicology evidence has to be analyzed, the investigation must go through several internal layers of review, and prosecutors must consider the evidence.

Troopers unsuccessfully tried to locate Cesar Cervantes after an arrest warrant was filed Aug. 13.

"His parents kept on telling us he wasn't living with us at the home," Kraus said. "But guess where we found him? At the home."

Nativada was riding in the bed of a 2002 Dodge Ram about 4 a.m. Dec. 26 when his older brother lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a light pole, according to the Highway Patrol.

The vehicle, carrying six people, spun across U.S. 41 near First Street SW in Ruskin, throwing Nativada and another teen from the truck bed. Four others, including Cesar Cervantes, were injured.

Gabriel Cervantes was in the truck. He said he couldn't really tell if his brother had been drinking.

In the months since, he hasn't spoken to his brother about the crash. "He doesn't really like talking about it," Gabriel Cervantes said. He kept to himself more. He would work on his car, but he didn't particularly care for possessions.

"He's changed,'' he said. "He's changed a lot."

He said his brother is calm, quiet. "No lie, he's very timid," he said.

Gabriel Cervantes said he became closer with his brother after the crash.

It's been difficult, he said.

"I'm all alone in the house now, you know," he said.

Riverview man accused of DUI manslaughter in death of 15-year-old brother 09/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 10:59pm]
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