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Ryan Morales recalls nothing of fatal crash, expresses remorse

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Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 5:19 pm

During a jailhouse interview, the man accused of killing six people in a horrific Lodi car crash said he has no memory of the moments surrounding the incident, but is haunted by the lives that were lost nearly two months ago.

Ryan Christopher Morales, dressed in a red jumpsuit with a bandage stretching from his knee to his ankle, talked for nearly an hour. He spoke from the other side of a glass partition about his failing attempts to remember how he went from drinking shots of vodka with his father to waking up in a hospital bed, preparing to face 15 criminal charges including six counts of murder.

“It was all an accident. I’m not a murderer,” Morales said in his first media interview since he was charged with causing a crash on Oct. 22 that killed six members of a Lodi family, including a pregnant mother and her unborn child, and left a 9-year-old boy orphaned.

Morales, who today is out of wheelchair and uses crutches to move about, relived the hours leading up to the crash and the day he woke up in a Sacramento hospital bed after nearly two weeks in a medically induced coma.

He added his days and nights are spent thinking — and often crying — about the family and Eden Miranda, the family’s lone survivor.

But despite his attempts to replay that night over and over in his head, he still has no recollection of the tragic event that could leave him incarcerated for the rest of his life.

He doesn’t remember getting in a car, or driving, or the crash involving six vehicles at the intersection of Ham Lane and Vine Street.

“I don’t remember anything,” he said.

According to search warrant affidavits, Morales had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 when he was admitted to a hospital shortly after the crash.

Officers also reported that the needle of the speedometer in the SUV Morales was driving was stuck past 100 miles per hour, which they say indicates his speed at the time of the crash.

Six people inside a Ford F-150 pickup truck involved in the collision died: Luis Miranda Ochoa, 32, Vivian Rodriguez Salgado, 31, their children Irvin Miranda, 12, Jose Luis Miranda, 6, and Stephanie Miranda, 5, and their unborn baby.

At the time of the crash, it had been nearly two months since Morales was released from San Quentin State Prison for evading police in 2012.

Morales, who is 28, has been arrested 16 times in the last 10 years, according to court records collected in a Lodi News-Sentinel special report published on Nov. 1.

But he had recently found a job as a construction worker and wanted to finally be a father to his two sons, ages 4 and 7.

“Prison changed me,” Morales said.

On the day of the crash, Morales brought home a 750 mL bottle of apple-flavored vodka to drink with his father.

“We just wanted to have a little drink,” said Morales, who added he remembers drinking roughly half a pint of vodka.

As he sat in a jail interview room, Morales looked down and shook his head before saying the last thing he remembers before blacking out is playing ping-pong with his father.

According to witnesses, Morales was talking on a cellphone while driving “faster than freeway speeds” at the time of the crash. Nearly two months later, Morales said he still couldn’t remember using his phone, or with whom he was reportedly speaking.

Today, he spends nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week locked in his cell, prohibited from wandering the halls or interacting with other inmates. He’s let out only once every two days for a shower.

The rest of his time is spent reading the Bible, James Patterson’s novel “Four Blind Mice” and Stuart Woods’ “Collateral Damage.”

On Wednesday, Morales learned that he’d continue receiving medication to treat anxiety, as well as the pain associated with his right leg — which was broken in three places — a lacerated liver and a broken rib.

Even with the medication, stress, guilt and depression keep Morales from sleeping most nights, he said.

He accepts that the majority of his remaining life could be spent in prison.

“It might be forever,” he said.

His mother, girlfriend, their son, and his priest visit him weekly.

“It makes me feel better,” he said.

But, he said, the relief is temporary. Thoughts of the Mirandas and a 9-year-old boy who will now grow up without his family are permanent.

“I’d want to apologize, and tell (Eden) that his family is not gone. They’re in heaven. Things are going to be all right,” he said.

Morales is scheduled to appear in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Monday morning. Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau declined to comment about the statements made by Morales during his interview.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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  • CATHERINE ERICKSON posted at 10:09 am on Tue, Dec 31, 2013.

    FRITZY9 Posts: 17

    The moment this man decided to buy the alcohol and "just have a little drink with his father" was the point at which this man was in control of his future and the possible future of others. Once one makes the decision to drink...all bets are off from that moment on. When you have a drinking problem and you know that a black out situation can happen then one should think before drinking again and seek out help to abate their drinking habits.(if that is really what happened...he may have been advised by his attorney to say he has no memory...he might not be telling the truth...he has been arrested many times and has knowledge of how he navigates himself through the legal system). This is about the law...if you decide to drink and drive and you kill anyone during that driving...you can be prosecuted for murder of varying levels. This is not an individual opinion issue...it is the law, and it is the law because hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed by people choosing to drink and then drive...even if you black out you cannot escape the laws. Unfortunately the innocent family in this case cannot recover and live like this defendant. They are gone forever and a young boy will have to live forever without them. Enough said.

  • Brett Thompson posted at 8:24 am on Tue, Dec 17, 2013.

    Brett Thompson Posts: 54

    I hope he suffers the rest of his life. This was not an accident. He has clearly demonstrated this pattern of behavior and it finally caught up with him.

    I hope prison is horrible for him and that his injuries hurt him the rest of his life.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:06 am on Mon, Dec 16, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1881

    HOW is holding people responsible for their actions "hating", Doug? Oh, that's right, you live with the constant companion of HATE.

    Yes, I have known people who blacked out from alcohol. They were aware enough to have a designated driver or make arrangements to sleep it off at a safe location. NOT one of my friends has gotten so drunk they decided stealing a car and taking actions that killed people was a reasonable course of actions.

    I find it amazing that anyone would defend a person who nearly wiped out family cause he wanted to get drunk.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:14 am on Sun, Dec 15, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    He who cast the first stone. You or anyone you know ever blacked out from alcohol/drug abuse addiction? What was their excuse? Just more hatin' in livable lovable Lodi.

  • Jerry Bransom posted at 7:18 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Jerry Bransom Posts: 363

    Liar Y asesino

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:40 pm on Fri, Dec 13, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1881

    I see Morales has the same attitude as his family, that this was nothing more than an accident.

    It was NO accident. It was a conscious decision to drink and drive. An accident is when things happen outside your control. This tragedy was completely inside his control. He has demonstrated his willingness to put others at risk in the past. I have no doubt he is sorry for what happened. BUT only because he has to face the consequences.

    I do not pity people who murder others through drinking and driving.



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