Updated at 1:35 p.m.
EDINBURG — Mary Coronado has a dream that will never come true.
“If I had one more wish, it would be to hold my daughter one more time,” a grief-stricken Mary said while sobbing during a victim impact statement Thursday.
Instead, she lives a nightmare because 31-year-old Orlando Zuniga Rodriguez chose to use alcohol and drugs before getting behind the wheel on Dec. 9, 2018, and killing her daughter, 29-year-old Sandra Coronado, who was on her way to work as a dispatcher at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.
Mary wept as she told Zuniga Rodriguez that Dec. 9 is her youngest daughter’s birthday and Dec. 10 is her birthday, days of joy that still remain dark as a reminder of the day Sandra died.
Zuniga Rodriguez entered a guilty plea Monday to intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle for Sandra’s death and received a 20-year prison sentence, the maximum term possible, Thursday morning, in front of a courtroom packed with Sandra’s relatives and friends.
Sandra died after Zuniga Rodriguez crashed his Chevrolet Avalanche into her Buick Encore SUV, pushing that vehicle against a concrete barrier near the 4900 block of Expressway 281.
Then he fled the scene.
Authorities arrested him in the 300 block of East Owassa Road, detailing in reports how he smelled of alcohol and marijuana and displayed bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.
Investigators later determined he was also under the influence of cocaine.
As Mary spoke to Zuniga Rodriguez, he held his head low and appeared to show little emotion.
Mary became overcome with grief during the impact statements, and a man standing next to her read her statement on her behalf.
He told him how Sandra was a young woman with big dreams who was looking to start a family.
But those aspirations were cut short because he chose to party all night and get behind a wheel, he said, reading from Mary’s statement.
“No amount of years can take back what you took from us,” he said.
After finishing, Sandra’s family and friends silently filtered out of the courtroom.
State District Judge Marla Cuellar granted Zuniga Rodriguez a brief few moments to say goodbye to his family after they left — an opportunity Mary will never have again.