Drunk driver found guilty of murder in 2019 Long Beach crash that killed 3-year-old, parents

Jessica De Nova Image
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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Man convicted in 2019 Long Beach crash that killed couple, 3-year-old

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A drunk driver who struck and killed a family of three while they were out in Long Beach on Halloween night in 2019 has been found guilty of murder.

Carlo Adrian Navarro was found guilty of three counts each of murder and vehicular manslaughter on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old is now facing as much as 45 years to life in prison when he's sentenced Sept. 15.

Navarro was convicted for the deaths of Joseph Awaida, 30, Raihan Dakhil Awaida, 32, and their 3-year-old son, Omar. They were trick-or-treating near Los Cerritos Park when they were struck.

"It's been almost three years since they were run over by this drunken driver, and I'm glad that we can put this to rest and begin the process of grieving now," said Cecilia Vasquez Ramos, Joseph Awaida's family member.

Vasquez said Joseph Awaida was studying to be a doctor at California State University Long Beach. She said Omar Awaida was ball of energy, a loving boy just like his father.

Prosecutors said Navarro was driving on Country Club Drive after getting a bottle of alcohol at a local liquor store. Video in court showed him getting the bottle.

He crashed into the family while they were walking home.

The Awaida family was emotional during opening statements and testimony last month, reliving the deaths of their three loved ones.

Vasquez said Omar, Joseph and Raihan Awaida were celebrating Halloween at her house the night of the accident.

She said soon after they left to go to their own home, she heard a loud sound. She said something told her to check on the family. After driving to their house and multiple missed calls, she noticed police lights.

"I just prayed that he'd come out and laugh at me and say I was just being a nervous nelly, but he never came," Vasquez said.

Vasquez said police confirmed Omar, Joseph and Raihan Awaida were hit while walking home.

In court, police body camera and surveillance images showed the street Navarro was driving on, as well as Joseph and Raihan Awaida's bodies on the street. Omar was reportedly lying under a car across the street.

"[Navarro] did not take the stand," said Vasquez. "He never offered any words of remorse. I never heard his voice except for when he was admitting to his crime on film."

Witnesses recalled seeing Navarro speeding, driving onto the sidewalk and hitting the family.

"I'm so happy that the last thing I said to them was that I love them, and I kissed them. And the stroller went around the corner and then I never saw them again," Vasquez said.

She continued, saying, "I don't think we'll ever be the same again. We don't celebrate holidays anymore ... not just Halloween. It's very difficult for all of us to gather, and maybe one day, we'll get to that spot. It's just not going to happen anytime soon."

City News Service contributed to this report.