Edcouch man gets 40 years for crash that killed EMT, patient

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A photo is shown to the jury of Delia Cortines during the sentencing phase of Mitchell Garcia Treviño at the 476th District Court with Judge Ysmael Fonseca Monday, April 8, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

“You took my daughter’s happiness away,” said the father of the sole survivor of a fatal drunk driving crash that took the lives of 32-year-old Felipe Huerta Jr. and his patient, 68-year-old Delia Cortines on Dec. 16, 2018.

Rudy Rodriguez, father of Andrea Rodrigez, addressed 39-year-old Mitchell Garcia Treviño and his defense attorney, Tania Ramirez, during his victim impact statement following the jury’s recommendation for Treviño’s punishment.

Treviño, an Edcouch resident, was convicted Friday on two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault. State District Judge Ysmael Fonseca sentenced Treviño to 40 years in prison.

“This sentence will not restore people’s lives,” Fonseca said. He added that in his court, victims will feel heard and that this sentence will serve as a message to those who choose to drink and drive.

Rudy shouted at Treviño and Ramirez during his victim impact statement, saying his daughter almost died and, as a father, he was furious that Treviño took everything from her.

“You made Andrea go from a caregiver to a patient,” Rudy said.

Andrea suffers from a long list of medical issues that stem from the fatal crash. From neurological problems to a possibly necrotic, dislocated hip that will require surgery.

“The pain and suffering you caused my daughter is forever,” Rudy said.

Andrea wanted to be a nurse and eventually become a doctor after she joined the military just like her husband, Felipe, or “Philip” as his family called him, who died in the crash.

Felipe served as a U.S. Marine and did two tours in Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged with a Purple Heart and upon returning to the Rio Grande Valley, he decided to become an EMT.

“He chose to serve his community,” Rudy said.

A photo is held by a relative of those that died in the ambulance that was hit by a drunk driver during the sentencing phase of Mitchell Garcia Treviño’s trial at the 476th District Court on Monday, April 8, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Rudy lamented the fact that he has no brothers or sisters and looked forward to having grandchildren through Andrea and Felipe.

Felipe’s older brother, Daniel Huerta, said his brother had tried hard to join the Marines and dropped weight in order to do so. After three different tries, he was finally enlisted.

Daniel said Felipe would confide in him when he’d get in firefights in Afghanistan and he would reassure his little brother about the things he had to do in a foreign land far from home.

His time in the military changed Felipe. Daniel said his brother had his issues, but he suddenly became the older brother and the roles reversed. Daniel began to seek out Felipe instead, but now he’s gone.

“It’s hard, it sucks, it’s surreal,” Daniel said about his brother being taken from his family.

He reminisced about the times Felipe and Andrea were studying to be EMTs and how they’d practice inserting IVs in Daniel’s arm.

“My son reminds me of him, my daughter reminds me of him,” Daniel said.

He says that it’s strange for him because there’s so much that reminds him of his brother, but then he remembers that he’s gone.

Daniel said Treviño is still able to see his family and they’d be able to visit him in jail, but his family doesn’t have the same privilege anymore and they now have to go to the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in order to do so.

“That’s where I go visit my brother, the cemetery,” he said.

Tania Ramirez, right, talks to her client, Mitchell Garcia Treviño during his sentencing phase at the 476th District Court with Judge Ysmael Fonseca Monday, April 8, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Similarly, Sylvia Faz, the daughter of Delia Cortines, said that she sometimes pulls out her phone and attempts to call her mom on instinct.

“To this day, I pick up the phone and want to call her,” Faz said during her witness testimony.

She added that she hasn’t deleted her mom’s contact on her phone because it still holds a picture of Cortines.

Faz received the news of her mother’s death late at night after picking up her daughter from her university out of town. At first she didn’t believe the news and was in disbelief, but it eventually hit her.

“It wasn’t until I saw her in a casket that I knew she was gone,” Faz said.

Faz said she has a niece who lived with Cortines who is now suffering from drug addiction because of her mother’s death.

“He took what gave me life,” Faz said in tears.

Faz’s family hasn’t had a family gathering since her mother’s death and said she hasn’t stepped foot in her home again.

Mitchell Garcia Treviño walks into the 476th District Court with Judge Ysmael Fonseca Monday, April 8, 2024, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Felipe’s mom, Gloria Garza, described her late son as a kind and caring person who worried about his friends. She told a story about how Felipe would ask her not to buy him new clothes so his friends wouldn’t feel left out.

Garza added that when Felipe was first injured in Afghanistan, he was asked if he wanted to get back in the fight and he said yes.

“Every time there was a mission, he wanted to go,” Daniel said about his brother during his statement.

When Garza spoke of Felipe’s wife, Andrea, she said their love would make her happy.

“I was so happy for them because I saw the love they had for each other,” Garza said.

Garza then spoke of the day Felipe and Cortines were killed and how her son’s car wouldn’t turn on that morning. It wasn’t until a coworker helped change the battery on the vehicle that he was able to go to work.

She added that she was going to cook Sunday dinner for her son and his wife, but they never made it back.

Her family spared her from the image of her son injured from the crash, but Garza said she just wanted to be there with him

“I wanted to go see him because I didn’t want him to be alone,” Garza said through tears. “I wanted to see him … and I couldn’t even hug him because his chest was empty…”

She referred to the injuries he sustained due to the crash.

“I couldn’t touch him,” Garza said.

Before being sentenced and taken into custody, Treviño addressed the families and apologized.

“I would just like to apologize,” Treviño said. “There’s nothing I can say or do to bring anybody back.”