A man who crashed his SUV into an adult day care facility in La Mesa while driving under the influence of drugs, killing a man inside the building, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in state prison.
Daniel Joseph Corona, 62, pleaded guilty earlier this year to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and other charges for driving an SUV through the wall of the Golden Life ADHC Center on University Avenue.
Braden Jockmyhn, 41, an employee of the facility, was killed after Corona’s vehicle veered off the street, crossed a sidewalk and smashed into the building on July 28, 2021.
Corona tested positive for fentanyl and methamphetamine following the crash and both those drugs were found inside his totaled vehicle, prosecutors said.
Jockmyhn was pronounced dead at the scene and Corona was hospitalized for a broken back.
In a letter read in court during Corona’s sentencing hearing, Jockmyhn’s mother, Marie-Claire Songhurst, wrote that her son was “the type of person who wanted to make a difference,” leading him to pursue a degree in social work. Songhurst wrote that prior to moving to California, her son worked with people suffering from brain injuries and drug addiction.
She said that on the date of his death, he was working “at the job he so loved” and had stayed late after everyone else had gone home for the day.
Corona’s defense attorney, Marc Kohnen, sought a six year term for his client, who he said wanted to plead guilty from the start . Kohnen said he saw parallels between his client and the victim, as Corona had sought a similar career path to become a caregiver and had performed work assisting people with disabilities.
Corona said in court that after the crash, he woke up in the hospital with no idea how he got there.
When a nurse told him what happened, he said he couldn’t believe it until he saw a picture on the news of his vehicle in the side of the building.
Corona said he immediately wrote a letter to the victim, which stated, “May our paths cross in Heaven, so I can apologize to you in person.”
San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O. Amador said he could have sentenced Corona to a maximum term exceeding 12 years, but selected 10 years because of his prior charitable works. However, he also chided the defendant for his drug use, which the judge said led to a death that was “totally unexpected” for the victim.
To Jockmyhn’s family members, who were observing the hearing remotely, the judge said that from everything he had gathered regarding Jockmyhn, he was “one of the good ones” and called the incident “terrible, incomprehensible and a total tragedy.”
City News Service contributed to this article.