Driver in fatal SUV crash was on probation, had expired license

Jacksonville police say SUV was speeding when it lost control

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The driver who caused a crash Monday night on East Airport Center Drive that killed his passenger and injured three people in another vehicle was on probation and was driving on a suspended license, according to police records.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report, David Matilla, 25, was speeding east at about 6:30 p.m. when he lost control of a GMC Yukon. The SUV crossed the median, went airborne, overturned and landed on a smaller SUV in the oncoming lane.

Police said 25-year-old Samantha Sanchez, a passenger in the Yukon, was ejected and died at the scene.

"She's my baby girl, and she's always been precious to me and her brother, Josh," Sanchez's mother, Kelly Sanchez, told News4Jax Tuesday. "I don't know what to do."


Matilla, who was also ejected from the vehicle, took off running but was detained by bystanders until police arrived. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, then booked into the Duval County jail on charges of violating his probation on a 2012 conviction on weapons and marijuana possession charges.

He has not yet been charged in connection with the fatal crash, but the accident report indicated a blood-alcohol test was taken.

The driver in the other SUV, 19-year-old Candice Neyer, said she was taking a friend and her 9-month-old daughter to McDonald's. She said after the crash, she asked Matilla for help.

"I thought he was a pedestrian, so I was like, 'Can you help me?  I'm locked in my car.  Can you help me?'  And he just ignored me," Neyer said. "I don't know how you don't have the heart to help somebody in an accident."

Neyer was hospitalized, along with the baby, with non-life-threatening injuries. She said she knows it could have been much worse and, despite what happened, she forgives Matilla.

"I hope her family can forgive him.  And that's all that matters," Neyer said of Samantha Sanchez's family. "I'm not mad at him. I was mad at him for not helping me because that is -- you should help people. But that's his business, and God will deal with him."

Kelly Sanchez said she doesn't even know how her family will pay to bury Samantha, or Sami, as she was known. But she takes comfort in the fact that Sami had so many friends.

"Samantha had a really happy, beautiful spirit, and she loved everybody," Kelly Sanchez said.

Traffic homicide investigators said neither Samantha Sanchez nor Matilla were wearing seat belts.

About the Author: