Parents seek justice, deputy chase policy enforcement after 19-year-old son killed

Suspect was being pursued by Lake County deputy when crash occured

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A Lake County couple is breaking their silence after their son was killed in 2017 following a high speed deputy chase. 

Yadira Santiago and Carlos Sanchez are speaking publicly for the first time since their 19-year-old son Carlitos was killed.

"It's been very hard. It changed our lives." Santiago said.

In April 2017, Carlitos was driving home from work at Universal Studios when a corporal with the Lake County Sheriff's Office tried to pull over a driver, 23-year old Wilvenson Darius, who ran a red light.

A camera from a deputy's cruiser captured what happened next.

According to reports, Darius didn't stop and deputies chased him. The chase went for miles around the roads of Lake County and one deputy admitted traveling 130 miles per hour, according to reports.

Minutes later, as Darius crossed the county line, leaving Lake County and entering Orange County,
he lost control of the Ford Mustang he was driving and crashed into Carlitos’s car head on, killing him, according to deputies.

Santiago said she could not accept the news her son was gone.

"I told him, 'No it can't be. It can't be,'" she said of when her husband told her their son had died.

An internal affairs report obtained by News 6 later found the chase was "not within policy."

The corporal who started the chase violated the agency's "motor vehicle pursuits" policy and "failed to perform the duties of rank," according to the report. 

"Why chase?" Sanchez asked. "I'm not happy," he said.  

The couple wants to see law enforcement enforce their pursuit policies.

As Darius's trial approaches, Sanchez is hoping for a conviction and hard time.

"Nothing that happens in this world is going to bring him back, so in that sense I would like justice so it doesn't happen to anybody else," Santiago said.

Darius is facing a number of charges including vehicular homicide. His trial is scheduled to start July 23.

Cpl. Joshua Creech, who started the pursuit, is still employed with the Sheriff's Office. He lost 10 vacation days as punishment.

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