Driver Who Killed Meriden Children in Crash Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

Police said Israel Gonzalez was more than three times over the legal limit.

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    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.

    The man who caused a drunken crash in Meriden that killed two young children will spend 12 years in prison.

    Police said Israel Gonzalez, 29, was drunk early on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 3 when he struck a car that was carrying three children and two adults.

    Five-year-old Tatiana Cruz and 8-year-old Lorenzo Cruz, a brother and sister from Meriden, were killed in the crash.

    Blood alcohol tests revealed that Gonzalez 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 February, 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.

    A judge accepted a plea agreement on Monday and sentenced Gonzalez to prison for 12 years.  After the sentencing, the victims' family members said justice was not served.

    The victims -- the family of Michael Cruz and Gina Schroder -- were in a Subaru Legacy that was  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 one of the hearings and said she is grateful to the people who have been supporting the family through this difficult time. 

    Gonzalez was being held on $1 million bond.

    A fund has been set up for the victims of the crash and is meant to help pay for funeral arrangements and 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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