An undocumented Mexican citizen has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in connection with a wrong-way crash on Interstate 26 with a car carrying six Lexington High School students.
Raymond Flores, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony DUI with great bodily injury.
Flores was driving the wrong way on I-26 just after midnight on Feb. 27, 2010, when his car struck the vehicle carrying the students. The teens were on their way back from Charleston, where they had been attending a High School League Lower State basketball tournament at The Citadel.
Flores' blood alcohol content was .19, about twice the legal limit at the time of the crash, which took place in Southern Lexington County, near exit 115.
Flores, who was in the U.S. illegally and working for a landscaping company, will be deported after serving his prison sentence, according to the 11th Circuit Solicitor's Office, which prosecuted the case.
Most of the students injured in the crash have recovered.
But for Brock Baxley, 18 at the time and a high school athlete intent on playing college football, the incident began a long nightmare of successive, expensive operations and painful ailments that could plague him for years.
"I've seen my child for a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, going through hell," said Baxley's mother, Rebecca Priester, who has taken time off from her job and worked with police to make sure Flores was fully prosecuted.
In the past year, she has taken her son to doctor after doctor trying to get the best treatment for the catastrophic damage to the joints and bones of his lower right leg. Some 17 bones in his foot and ankle were broken. The family also has undergone counseling to help cope with the emotional trauma. Baxley has taken numerous drugs to help deal with the pain, she said.
Before it is all over the medical ordeal may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Priester said.
Flores did not have insurance, and the car he was driving, which belonged to someone else, only had $50,000 worth of insurance coverage, she said.
Both Priester and her son were present Wednesday in the Lexington County courtroom to see Circuit Judge William Keesley sentence Flores to prison.