A Chula Vista mother was ordered Tuesday to stand trial for two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the drowning deaths of her 5-year-old daughter and a playmate after her car plunged into the Otay Reservoir.
Arlene Anna Hernandez, 22, sobbed during much of the preliminary hearing that was conducted by Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Ana Espana. She has pleaded not guilty.
Her daughter, Lesette Hernandez Silva, and her friend, Guiliana Figueroa, also 5, drowned after Hernandez lost control of her Kia Sorento around 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 5. She was driving east on Otay Lakes Road and went down an embankment and overturned in the reservoir.
Both Hernandez and Eric Figueroa, the father of the other girl, managed to get out of the submerged car, but the girls had their seat belts on in the backseat and they couldn’t get them out. A passing Border Patrol agent was able to get both girls out and they were rushed to a hospital, but both died in the emergency room.
The first witness was Eric Figueroa, but he brought an attorney with him and the Chula Vista man cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he refused to answer the prosecutor’s questions.
Three California Highway Patrol officers testified and a few witnesses talked about an unrelated incident in November 2011 when Hernandez was charged with hit and run with injury and giving false information to officers.
“She should have known better. This was an adult woman (with) three children,” said Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb to the judge.
If convicted of all charges, Hernandez faces a maximum sentence of 13 years and eight months in prison. A trial date will be set on Dec. 17.
Hernandez’s blood/alcohol level was .13, which is over the legal limit of .08. She remains in the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility on $400,000 bail.