61ºF

Mom of DUI crash victim: ‘We are walking zombies of heartache’

Blake Delapaz, 21, accused of manslaughter in deadly crash, waives first appearance in court

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The parents of four young adults from Jacksonville killed in a DUI crash last year in Gilchrist County were disappointed Saturday not to be able to confront the man troopers say was responsible for the deadly crash.

Blake Delapaz, 21, who was arrested Friday and charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the June 2018 crash, waived his first appearance in court Saturday. His lawyer appeared instead.

Troopers said Delapaz failed to stop at a stop sign on County Road 340 in Gilchrist County and was speeding when the Chevy Impala he was driving collided with a Ford Explorer.

Four people riding in the Impala -- Cameron Bell, 18, Isabella Garcia, 19, Alysia Littlejohn, 20, and Hayden Raulerson, 21 -- died in the crash, troopers said. No one in the car was wearing a seat belt. Delapaz had critical injuries.

Alysia Littlejohn’s mother, Elinor Littlejohn, said that the families understand Delapaz has a right to not appear in court but they were hoping to be able to face him.

“I think that at this point we are all just very anxious to get this show on the road with justice for our babies. It’s been a long 18 months,” Elinor Littlejohn said. “We’re just trying to stick together while we go on this journey for justice for our babies.”

Littlejohn said their emotions have run the gamut from sadness to anger and back again.

“Every day is hell. We have a part of us that is gone forever,” Littlejohn said. “We are walking zombies of heartache basically.”

She said it’s particularly hard with the holidays just around the corner.

“We want justice -- I use that term lightly, only because in this type of situation I don’t think there’s ever a true justice,” Littlejohn said. “Justice for me, and I think for all of us, would be to have our babies back. But that’s not going to happen, so I think we, at this point, just want to move forward. Everyone has to answer to their crimes, and this is just part of the process. And we have been really patient for 18 months, waiting for this part of the process to take place.”

Delapaz is being held in the Duval County jail on a $950,000 bond on the charges out of Gilchrist County.

“I think he’s deserving of every charge that has been handed to him,” said Trisha Garcia, Isabella Garcia’s mother. “I tell everybody every day that the only reason why we’re still standing is because of the support from the community.”


About the Author: