LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas man who was impaired by alcohol and cocaine when he plowed into two bicyclists, killing them, was sentenced Wednesday.
Marco Benitez, who accepted a plea deal, received a sentence of 16 to 40 years in prison. He told the judge, “When I got into that car I didn’t even know what was going on.”
The two bicyclists, Antonio Zabala, 36, and his longtime girlfriend, Karina Lopez, 37, were on a dinner break from their jobs on Nov. 4, 2022, when the crash happened. Lopez died at the scene and Zabala died the following day.
After hitting the couple, Benitez drove recklessly through traffic crashing into cars and causing a pile-up as he tried to flee the scene.
Dashcam video of Benitez’s crash with Zabala and Lopez was shown in the courtroom causing Zabala’s mother to leave the room.
His mother, Geralyn Torres, and his sister, Arianna Zabala, traveled from the Midwest so they could speak at the sentencing.
“The opportunity to stop was ignored more than three times, Torres said. “Getting away was his choice that night.”
They lost a loving son and brother who had only moved to Las Vegas four months earlier to take an executive chef job. Torres said her son’s career had started to take off when his life was cut short.
Tragically, Zabala had a 14-year-old son who lost his father.
A family friend read a statement from the boy who was not present at the sentencing.
“I want to say to the man who took my father away. I’m mad. I wish you hadn’t gone out that day and got drunk… I have to go through life finding my own way because my dad isn’t here to guide me.”