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Navy sailor denies being drunk before deadly Coronado Bridge crash

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 20:47:12-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Richard Sepolio, accused of driving drunk off the Coronado Bridge, killing four people in 2016, denied being intoxicated while testifying in his own defense Tuesday. It's the first time Sepolio has publicly described his version of events.

Prosecutors say Sepolio was drunk, talking with his girlfriend on a cell phone, and speeding more than 80 miles per hour that day in 2016. He careened off the left side of the ramp from the 5 North to the bridge, landing in Chicano Park below. The park was packed with people attending an event. Sepolio's truck crushed four people.

In his testimony, Sepolio denies driving impaired. He says he had consumed two drinks earlier in the day. He also denies being on the phone at the time of the crash, saying he had hung up before reaching the ramp. Sepolio says he was attempted to change lanes, but that the driver behind him sped up, cutting him off. Sepolio says he was trying to move back to his original lane but over-corrected. He also claims to have been administered several breathalyzer tests and remembers an officer telling him he was not drunk.

Family members of the victims told 10News they believe Sepolio is not being truthful. "You're supposed to tell the truth," said Aurora Contreras, sister of victim Cruz Contreras. "You're supposed to obey the laws. You're in the navy. Why can't he man up and say 'I'm sorry'. He never said that."

Sepolio's attorney, Paul Pfingst, says Sepolio is now married with a baby and has been promoted by the Navy to 2nd Petty Officer. Sepolio faces 24 years in prison. Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday.