FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The man accused of DUI manslaughter of a Miami Heat dancer took to the witness stand Monday.
Prosecutors began by questioning Mario Careaga about a party he attended in September 2010 shortly before he reportedly veered out of his lane on Sunrise Boulevard and struck Nancy Lopez-Ruiz from behind.
Careaga described how the “immediate impact caused the airbag to go off and his glasses flew off.” “I had no idea what occured,” he said.
Often Fighting back tears, Careaga said that when he got out of his vehicle with his domestic partner he saw Nancy Ruiz in front of his car.
“We started to pray and we continue to pray for the family of Nancy everyday,” said Careaga.
While Careaga testified, Lopez-Ruiz’s parents left the courtroom.
Last week, the jury was shown still photos from inside the Galleria Mall where Careaga was attending a party and allegedly drinking.
“There were three drinks that I got, I finished two, but the third I did not finish I left it on the counter,” said Careaga in court.
Lopez-Ruiz was parked on her motorcycle in the median where U.S. 1 and Sunrise Boulevard split when she was hit. According to Ft. Lauderdale Police, the force of the crash sent her body more than 130 feet in the air.
Since opening statements began March 18, jurors have heard testimony from witnesses, police officers and Careaga’s life partner, Ray Stapleton, who was with him in the car the night of the accident.
Careaga, a Fort Lauderdale insurance executive, had blood alcohol levels of .24 percent and .23 percent that were measured in two samples after the crash, according to probable cause affidavit.