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Eyewitness recalls moments before fatal Calif. crash that killed Angels pitcher

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A minivan that prosecutors said ran a red light and caused a crash that killed a promising Los Angeles Angels pitcher and two others was going so fast it could not have stopped at the signal, an eyewitness testified Thursday.

Jurors at the trial watched a police interview with witness Esteban Quiroz, who was trying to make a left turn at the same intersection just seconds before the wreck that killed pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22; Courtney Stewart, 20; and Henry Pearson, 25.

Andrew Gallo, 23, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder for driving drunk and causing the April 2009 crash. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, as well as to felony hit-and-run and driving while intoxicated and causing injuries to two other people.

Gallo, whose blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit, could face a maximum sentence of more than 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

Quiroz, 34, told police in the April 9, 2009 videotaped interview that he got a turn signal and was inching into the intersection when he saw a red minivan traveling about 70 or 80 mph approaching from his left.

Seconds later, as Quiroz watched, the minivan ran the red light and T-boned the car carrying the victims, he told officers.

"It was just flying. You don't expect a car to be going that fast toward a red light. Next thing I knew, it was on top of the gray car," he said. "What was really apparent ... is that the van was not going to stop."

Quiroz's car was swiped by the victims' car as it spun around after the impact and his airbag deployed, knocking his glasses off his face. He was not seriously injured.

Earlier, the prosecution showed jurors surveillance video from a bar where Gallo and his stepbrother Raymond Rivera had been drinking before the collision. The video shows the brothers drinking for nearly three hours and consuming beer after beer and multiple shots.

On Wednesday, Rivera testified the pair drank several beers each and a tequila shot at a bar before going to a bikini bar, where they drank "boombahs" -- beers in foot-tall glasses that hold the equivalent of about three pints each.

Rivera said he blacked out but recalled buying himself and Gallo a pint each of a specialty beer that's notorious for having such a high alcohol content that some bars don't serve it.

Rivera said he doesn't remember getting in the minivan.