HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — An arrest has been made in the chain-reaction crash back in October that took the life of 26-year-old Claire Wenzel. However, Wenzel’s family does not feel like the charge and the expected punishment fit the crime.
On the morning of Oct. 31, 2022, a Jeep ran off the road on I-95 North near the Parham Road exit and hit a guardrail before spinning back onto the interstate. After that, a total of seven cars ran into each other, all trying to avoid the crash. Claire Wenzel was the designated driver of a Hyundai that got caught in the collision.
Wenzel died instantly. She was the only person killed, but several others were hurt in the crash.
Police have now charged Luis Javier Quinones has the person responsible for the crash. However, Quinones is only being charged for a first conviction driving under the influence (DUI). In Virginia, this has a penalty of up to one year in jail.
For the past six months, Claire’s mother, Donna Wenzel, says she’s just wanted someone to be held accountable.
“It’s been absolute hell,” Donna Wenzel said. “It’s been horrible trying to get answers, trying to deal with learning how to live without Claire.”
However, this is not the outcome the Wenzel family was hoping for. While they are happy an arrest was made, they say the maximum sentence of one year that Quinones is facing does not fit the lifetime loss of their loved one.
“We have a life sentence to living without Claire. And I mean, a DUI doesn’t do anything to make us feel any better about that,” Katie Wenzel, Claire’s sister, said. “The maximum time you can serve is a year in jail. And a year later I won’t even have begun to accept losing my sister.”
After learning about the charge, the Wenzel family wishes more could be done.
“Their job is to keep the public safe. Their job is to advocate for victims. And we do not feel that that is being done in this case,” Donna Wenzel said.
Court documents show that Quinones has received three driving-related citations in the past decade, including failure to drive on the right side of the road, failure to obey a traffic signal and speeding 15 miles over the speed limit.
Quinones is set to be arraigned on Thursday, May 11.
In this statement from the Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Shannon Taylor, she states that the Virginia State Police concluded their investigation on April 21 of this year and met with the family last week.