Ex-SDSU football player sentenced in I-15 on-ramp death of Caltrans worker

A former football standout accused of killing a young dad in a suspected DUI crash apologized to the victim's family prior to his arraignment. (NBC-7 screen shot)

Former El Camino High School and San Diego State football star Reginald Grigsby Jr., 32, was sentenced this week to six years in prison for gross vehicular manslaughter without intoxication. That was the maximum penalty allowed by law.

Grigsby pled guilty to the charge in March. During sentencing this week. Grigsby apologized for what he had done to the victim and his family. “I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart,” Grigsby said in the courtroom. “This was a terrible judgment call on my part. I own up to my mistake, and I pray that one day you can forgive me.”

Grigsby lost control of his Mitsubishi Montero on the connector from South Centre City Parkway to southbound Interstate 15 in Escondido shortly after 2 p.m. last Sept. 14.

Rolling at what was described as “freeway speed,” the vehicle veered off the roadway, rolled down a slope and struck Murrieta resident Leonardo Sandoval, who was repairing a sprinkler system in a median next to the freeway entrance. Grigsby’s SUV overturned before coming to rest on its roof next to a offramp from northbound I-15.

Sandoval, the 21-year-old father of a year-old boy and an employee of Perris-based Pacific Restoration Group, a Caltrans subcontractor, died at the scene.

During sentencing procedures, Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod said Grigsby told emergency workers he fell asleep while driving. Witnesses described him as lethargic or “zoned out.” McLeod said Grigsby told investigators he had taken Klonopin, a drug used to control epileptic seizures, but none was found in his system.

“Mr. Grigsby ignored the warning signs,” McLeod said, arguing the defendant knew he had not slept in a couple of days and was not fit to drive. And she acknowledged his history of mental illness.

Grigsby also had his past record working against leniency, Superior Court Judge Michael Popkins said during sentencing.

In sentencing Grigsby to the maximum term allowed by law, Popkins said he was persuaded y Grigsby’s criminal history as well as the fact an innocent person was killed. “If he was a first-time offender, I think I would have looked at this a little differently,” Popkins said.

Grisgsby driving selfie.

Grisgsby driving selfie.

Grigsby had a previous conviction for assault after he attacked and choked his mother into unconsciousness at his parents’ Fallbrook home in 2009. His father, Reginald Grigsby Sr., an Oceanside police captain, resorted to shooting his son twice in order to save his wife’s life.

The shooting was ruled justified by the district attorney’s office, which said the son had suffered from schizophrenia since he was a teenager. He also had beat up his father in 2004 and attacked his sister in 2008, authorities said. He spent a year in jail on the assault conviction and five years on probation.

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