Drunk Driver Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder in Fatal I-15 Crash

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A tragic incident unfolded on Interstate 15 in Corona when a convicted felon, Jorge Anival Gomez Augustin, collided with a compact SUV while driving under the influence, resulting in the death of the driver, Tommy Chu. Augustin, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Friday as part of a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. The agreement, announced during a status hearing before Superior Court Judge Gary Polk, includes a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison without the possibility of bail.

The fatal crash occurred in the early morning hours of February 12, 2022, when Augustin, driving a Mercedes-Benz E-350, rear-ended Chu’s Honda CRV on northbound I-15 at Weirick Road. Both vehicles veered off the freeway, down an embankment, and across the off-ramp lanes before coming to a stop near the exit ramp. Tragically, Chu was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics from the Corona Fire Department.

Following the crash, California Highway Patrol officers conducted a field sobriety test on Augustin and determined that he was intoxicated. Augustin had a prior conviction for importation and possession of a sawed-off shotgun, according to court records. He is currently being held at the Robert Presley Jail awaiting his sentencing hearing scheduled for May 17 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

The plea deal did not result in any dropped charges, emphasizing the severity of Augustin’s actions and the consequences he now faces. His decision to drive under the influence led to the loss of a life and has forever altered the course of not only Chu’s family but also his own. As the community grapples with the aftermath of this tragic event, it serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of driving while impaired and the devastating impact it can have on individuals and families.

Augustin’s plea has brought a sense of closure to the legal proceedings surrounding the crash, but for Chu’s loved ones, the pain and loss remain profound. The upcoming sentencing hearing will provide an opportunity for both sides to present their cases and for the court to hand down a sentence that reflects the gravity of Augustin’s actions. As the community mourns the loss of a valued member, it also stands united in advocating for safer roads and responsible choices behind the wheel.