Apr 6, 2016 9:57 PM by Debbie Cobb
A Chico State student accused of driving under the influence and killing his two passengers recently died of his injuries suffered in the collision. District Attorney Mike Ramsey said he was informed this week that Diego Arriaga-Rodriguez, 20, of Morgan Hills, died on March 5 likely from complications in a series of on-going medical problems associated with a brain injury he suffered. Arriaga-Rodriguez had been charged with Driving Under the Influence Resulting in Death of Bryant Scott Mata, 19 and Austin Michael Silver, 21, both Chico State students.
On January 26, 2014 about 12:45 a.m., Arriaga-Rodriguez was allegedly driving his vehicle on Bidwell Avenue west of Rose Avenue in Chico, with Mata and Silver as passengers, when he lost control of his vehicle. The vehicle landed, upside down, in the Big Chico Creek, trapping all three trapped inside and underwater. Silver was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of head trauma. Mata was taken from the scene by ambulance but later pronounced dead at Enloe Medical Center of probable drowning. Arriaga-Rodriguez survived the crash but suffered brain damage as a result of being underwater too long before his rescue. It was determined Arriaga-Rodriguez's blood alcohol level was a .06% approximately 3 hours after the traffic collision. Given the normal rate of elimination or burn off of alcohol from the body, Ramsey said Arriaga-Rodriguez's blood alcohol level at the time of driving was at least .12%.
The criminal case against Arriaga-Rodriguez was delayed for months as he underwent extensive rehabilitation treatment in a Bay area hospital and in February of this year the court declared him incompetent to stand trial.
Ramsey says the case is a tragic example of the consequences of drinking and driving. "Three young men with bright futures had their lives snuffed out and their families now have to deal with the horrendous losses - all for a highly avoidable event."