GIBSONTON — If Lizangela Bonilla Parilla had gone straight home work that night, the motorcyclist she slammed into while driving under the influence would still be alive, authorities say.
Months earlier, Bonilla had pleaded guilty to DUI. As part of the terms of her probation, the 21-year-old Riverview woman was supposed to be driving "for business purposes only," records show. But on Nov. 5, Bonilla decided to stay at the Sunset Grill in Ruskin after her shift ended to drink alcohol, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Bonilla was driving a 2013 Toyota Corolla north on Interstate 75 about 8:45 p.m. when she decided at the last moment to take the Gibsonton Drive exit, an arrest report says. Bonilla veered into the painted area between the travel lane and exit ramp where 28-year-old Charlie Suave Garcia of Orlando had stopped his motorcycle. The Corolla struck Garcia from behind, throwing him off the bike and to the ground. He died at the scene.
Investigators concluded Bonilla, 21, was under the influence of alcohol at the time, the report says. On Monday, she was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter.
Bonilla would later tell investigators that her shift ended at 6 p.m. that day but she stayed afterward to have one alcoholic drink and watch karaoke, then set off for home, according to the arrest report. She said was she made the last minute turn to exit because she "reacted to GPS directions late." She said she needed the directions because she was relatively new to the area.
The report says the lights on Garcia's Yamaha YZF R6 were on when he was struck. He was wearing a helmet but died of blunt force trauma to the head, a Highway Patrol crash report says. It's unclear why Garcia was stopped in the painted, triangle-shaped area between the travel land and exit ramp, known as a gore. Investigators found his motorcycle had no mechanical defects, the report says.
After the crash, Bonilla was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital to be treated for minor injuries. There, troopers noted signs that she was under the influence of alcohol, reports state. It took four hours to get a search warrant to draw her blood because of logistical problems, but the results showed her blood alcohol level at 12:53 a.m. was .093, the reports say. A driver in Florida is presumed to be impaired at .08 or higher.
Bonilla was being held without bail Tuesday in the Hillsborough County jail.
The driving restrictions imposed on her stem from her arrest Jan. 3, 2018.
About 1:45 that morning, Bonilla stole a Kia Optima from a parking in lot in front of the owner's Riverview apartment, then crashed the car while driving under the influence, arrest report says. Bonilla, who was 20 at the time, was charged with grand theft auto, DUI with property damage and reckless driving.
Bonilla pleaded guilty to the second and third charges and a judge allowed to enter a pre-trial diversion program, records show. She was sentenced to a year of probation and her license was suspended for six months.
In February of this year, she was arrested for violating her probation with a technical violation, meaning she wasn't charged with a new crime, records show. The details of the violation were not available Tuesday, but she admitted to the violation and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, among other sanctions, records show. At the time of the November crash, she was supposed to be driving only for business purposes, records show.
State law defines “business purposes” as “driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes.”
Bonilla “chose to remain at a bar and drink after her work shift, which ended at 6 p.m.,” putting her in violation of the restrictions, the arrest report says.
“It’s very clear she didn’t learn a lesson the first time and now she’s killed someone,” said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol. “She should have left work and gone home.”
Garcia's obituary describes him as a "very vibrant soul" who could talk to anyone.
"Charlie was a generous, witty and dedicated individual who loved family and friends, the ocean, the sky and animals," the obituary says. "In short, he loved life and anyone who came across his path loved him!"
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.