PALMETTO -- A judge set bond Thursday at $700,000 for the man accused of driving while impaired when he crashed his SUV into a mobile home in at 2:30 a.m. April 1, killing a young couple and their unborn child.
Christian Crawford, 37, of Bradenton, was arrested Wednesday on three charges of driving while intoxicated with manslaughter and one count driving while intoxicated with property damage.
Crawford drove his SUV into a mobile home in the Lone Oak Mobile Home Park, U.S. 41 at Seventh Street West in Palmetto.
Ivan Carlos, 21, and Brenda Avilez, 18, who was nine months pregnant, were asleep and killed on impact.
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Crawford suffered nonlife- threatening injuries.
Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler said at a press conference Thursday it took a few months to make the arrest because investigators were waiting for lab results to confirm Crawford was intoxicated at the time of the crash. Tests confirmed there was marijuana and cocaine in his system, but no alcohol.
"We didn't file charges on Mr. Crawford at the time because we needed to get that lab analysis back to determine whether we had probable cause to believe he had committed a crime in connection with the crash," Tyler said. "Now that we have that analysis, the state will be moving forward with a criminal case."
Tyler said he could not speak to the amount of drugs found in Crawford's system or whether he was high at
the time of the crash.
"That's something that will come out in trial," Tyler said. "I don't want to impede the state's case by talking about that now."
Judge Susan Maulucci ordered Crawford held on $200,000 bond for each manslaughter charge and $100,000 bond for the property damage charge -- $250,000 higher than the state requested.
If Crawford does post bond, Maulucci ordered him to stay away from the victims' families and residents of the mobile home and abstain from all alcohol and illegal drug use.
Tyler said there were conflicting accounts of Crawford trying to leave the scene, but he will not be charged with leaving the scene of a crash. He was at the scene of the crash when police arrived, and Crawford told police he initially left the crash site because people were being hostile and he thought they would attack him.
Carlos' mother, Fabiola Tapia, said through an interpreter she thanks God Crawford was arrested.
"She's prayed for this moment. She's been praying a lot, asking for justice," the interpreter said, translating Spanish. "It was a sad day; her life changed. Her heart is devastated since that day, and a piece of her is gone."
Tapia said her family feels calmer now, but are all still heartbroken by the loss. She said the couple was together for about a year, and were excited for the birth of their baby girl.
"They were so happy when they found out they were pregnant. They were expecting their first child," the interpreter translated. "(Avilez) was happy, and she was already planning her baby shower, and (Carlos) was happy."
Carlos was the oldest of Tapia's five children.
According to Florida Department of Corrections, Crawford was released from prison Aug. 15, 2014, after serving less than 21 months of his sentence for sale or delivery of cocaine and possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a place of worship. He was also convicted of petty theft, violation of probation, unauthorized use of a credit card, petty theft after prior convictions and possession of drug paraphernalia.
If convicted of the new charges, Crawford faces up to 45 years in prison because of his status as a re-offender.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby