A Bakersfield man with multiple DUI convictions and whom prosecutors charged with murder in the deaths of two men in an alleged drunken driving crash last month admitted to investigators that he drank a few "tall cans" of Budweiser before getting behind the wheel, according to court documents.
Steve Flores Garza, 46, was booked into jail following his release from Kern Medical Center for treatment of a fractured hip he suffered in the June 26 crash on Highway 43 near Burbank Street.
Garza told a California Highway Patrol officer he was driving his 2002 Chevy Trailblazer north on Highway 43 when suddenly a car appeared in front of him, according to the documents. He estimated he was traveling 60 mph at the time of the crash.
Witnesses reported Garza had been driving recklessly, the documents say. One motorist said Garza came up "extremely fast" behind her, swerved into the opposite lane to pass then continued to speed north.
The motorist was calling in Garza's vehicle to authorities when she came upon the crash, according to the documents.
The Trailblazer collided with a Honda Accord, killing two occupants and badly injuring a third, the CHP said. The two who died were ejected from the car.
The Honda had slowed to make a left turn onto Burbank when Garza, passing traffic using the southbound lane, smashed into the driver's side of the Honda, officers said.
Those killed were identified as Isaiah Jacob Sanchez, 20, and Emilio Junior Mendoza, 23, both of Shafter. Neither man was wearing a seat belt.
The occupant who survived was wearing a seat belt, according to the CHP.
Garza is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, among other charges, and faces a life term in prison if convicted. The CHP said a records check showed he has two prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years. One was in 2009, the other in August.
Garza is being held on $1 million bail and is next due in court July 18.