Vishnu Persaud (the murderer): "I messed my whole life up”
Vishnu, what about the two innocent people you killed? Maybe you should have thought ahead when you were arrested for drunk driving the first time AND maybe the judge should have taken away your license or put you in the slammer. If we had strong laws and respectable judges Joahua and Nastasha would still be alive.
MARION COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
five-vehicle accident killed two people, injured four, including Persaud, and left another three people uninjured. It claimed the lives of Joshua L. Batista, 20, of Ocala, and Nastasha M. Vargas, 22, of New York.
"The people who were killed, how old were they?" Persaud, 35, asked as he inspected the report. He asked who the victims were, where they were from and what the injuries were. He was sitting at the Marion County Jail, wearing a red-and-white uniform and flip-flops, following his arrest on drunken-driving charges.
"All I can say is I'm sorry. There’s nothing I can do or say to make it better," Persaud said. "Whatever I got to do I will do."
He said: "[I] messed my whole life up.”
Making his first court appearance via video Wednesday morning, he stood in front of County Judge Sarah Ritteroff Williams. He is charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter, two counts of driving while license suspended or revoked involving a fatal crash, two counts of DUI with serious injuries, and DUI with property damage.
After the brief court hearing, Persaud admitted drinking, but declined to say where.
Based on a breath test, FHP officials reported a blood alcohol level of .33, which is more than four times the .08 legal limit for drivers. It's not his first DUI case. Five years ago, while Persaud was on probation for DUI, he was arrested again - and later convicted - for leaving the scene of a crash and driving while license was suspended or revoked.
Persaud was booked in the jail at 1:18 a.m. Wednesday, after first being taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center.
According to the FHP, the victims included: Andrew T. Santiago, 20, of Umatilla, who was seriously hurt and was taken to Shands at the University of Florida, and Samantha K. Walker, 22, and Angelia E. Esposito, 17, both of Belleview, who suffered minor injuries and were taken to Munroe Regional Medical Center.
Sebastian Del Rio, 18, and Eduardo Del Rio, 44, both of Ocala, were involved in the crash but reportedly had no injuries. Paul F. Webb, 50, of Fort McCoy, also was not injured.
FHP officials said a 2008 Nissan Titan driven by Persaud was speeding in the inside lane heading east on Maricamp Road, while the second vehicle, a 1994 Saturn, driven by Santiago, also in the inside lane, was slowing down for traffic that had stopped ahead of them. Also slowing down was a 1998 Oldsmobile driven by Walker.
The fourth vehicle, a 1995 Honda van, driven by the elder Del Rio, was heading east in the outside lane, and the fifth vehicle, a Dodge pickup truck was in the outside lane, stopped for traffic.
Troopers said the Titan rear-ended the Saturn, pushing it forward, and it struck the back of the Oldsmobile. The Saturn rotated clockwise off into the grassy median and rolled over before stopping.
The Oldsmobile rotated clockwise and into the outside lane, where it hit the rear of the Dodge pickup truck. The Oldsmobile stopped in the roadway, while the Dodge truck stopped not far away from the Oldsmobile in the grassy median on the opposite side of the roadway.
The Titan, officials say, rotated counter-clockwise after hitting the Saturn and crossed into the outside lane, where it rear-ended the Honda van.
The Titan stopped in the middle of the roadway, while the van ended up on the same side of the Dodge pickup truck not far away.
Batista and Vargas, who were in the Saturn, were killed. The Del Rios, who were in the van, were not injured, while Esposito, who was riding with Walker in the Oldsmobile, had minor injuries.
FHP records show the deaths are the 75th and 76th fatalities for the year in Marion County, and the first traffic deaths for the month of November.