Driver Pleads Guilty in Meriden Fatal Crash

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014  |  Updated 3:01 PM EDT
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Driver Pleads Guilty in Meriden Fatal Crash

NBCConnecticut.com and Israel Gonzalez

Police said Israel Gonzalez was drunk -- more than three times the legal limit, when he caused a crash that killed two young children in Meriden.

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The man who caused a drunken crash in Meriden that killed two young children pleaded guilty today on several counts and will be sentenced in April.

Police said Israel Gonzalez, 29, was drunk early on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 3 when he struck the car carrying three children and two adults. Blood alcohol tests revealed that he was more than three times over the legal limit.

He was charged with manslaughter, assault with a motor vehicle and operating a vehicle under the influence in connection with the November 3 crash that killed 5-year-old Tatiana Cruz and 8-year-old Lorenzo Cruz, a brother and sister from Meriden.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, three counts of second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence and evading responsibility.

The family of Michael Cruz and Gina Schroder was in a Subaru Legacy, stopped at a traffic light at Broad Street and Gale Avenue around 2 a.m. when Gonzalez crashed a GMC Denali into the back of it, police said.

Michael Cruz and Gina Schroder, as well as Schroder’s 12-year-old son Alejandro, were injured in the crash.

Alejandro was in the intensive care unit after the crash, but was released from the hospital. Gina had to undergo surgery.

Barbel Valentin, the children's grandmother was in court for a prior hearing and said she is grateful to the people who have been supporting the family through this time. 

Gonzalez was being held on $1 million bond. He will be sentenced on April 21.

As family members began to grieve, they also set up a donation fund to make funeral arrangements and help pay the survivors' medical expenses.

"Their long-term needs is what we're trying to protect and help with," said Cruz. "You know they're obviously going to have a lot of bills and we just want to try and help and be there, with community help. That's our greatest goal."

You can send donations to:

The Cruz and Schroder Memorial Fund
Care of David R. Cavanaugh
Vice President of People United Bank
1310 Silas Dean Highway
Wethersfield CT, 06109

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