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Widow of Man Killed in 2009 Crash Speaks Out, Suspect Arraigned

3 years 6 months 1 week ago Monday, October 23 2017 Oct 23, 2017 October 23, 2017 5:34 PM October 23, 2017 in News

SEBASTIAN – The suspect who killed another man in a 2009 head-on collision was charged with intoxication manslaughter and murder.

Fernando Guajardo Rodriguez is being held responsible for the crash that claimed the life of Jose Pablo Mata of Sebastian.

Mata was survived by his wife Manuelita, who was also injured in the accident. She fought for her life in critical condition in the time following the crash.

Manuelita received the news of Rodriguez’s arraignment Monday morning.

"I was in the kitchen when my friend called me and told me," said Mata.

The couple was on the way to their grandson’s musical performance at the now-defunct University of Texas-Pan American. Officials said Rodriguez was driving while intoxicated with his lights off when his vehicle slammed into the couple’s car.

"And then I saw this black thing come over us,” said Mata. “And my husband, he kind of moved to the right. And when he moved to the right, the impact was on him... and I remember just starting screaming and screaming because of the pain."

CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned Rodriguez was arrested on warrants in September. Officials believed he fled to Mexico after the accident.

Mata told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she leaned on her memories to cope with the loss.

"I had a lot of beautiful memories about our life, our marriage,” said Mata. “We lived a very happy life and that's where I found my peace. Just by remembering the good memories, lovely memories."

She told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the healing process can finally begin.

"I always knew that if you put it in the Lord's hands that someday justice will be done,” said Mata, “but now my husband can rest in peace too."

Rodriguez is set to appear in a pretrial hearing on Nov. 20.

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