Drunk driver who ran red light, hit UC Berkeley student in crosswalk, sentenced

Vicky Buenrostro (in graduation gear) with her sister Mayra. Photo: Courtesy

A Southern California man who was drunk when he ran a red light, striking a UC Berkeley student as she jogged through a crosswalk near campus one year ago, has been sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation, according to court records.

Vicky Buenrostro of Santa Ana, then 21, was out for a run June 18, 2018, at about 9:45 p.m. when the driver ran into her with his Toyota Prius at Durant Avenue and Dana Street. Buenrostro sustained critical head injuries and was rushed to Highland Hospital. She required several brain surgeries and “has had to learn to read and write again,” according to court papers.

Esteban Slavitt, 27, of Claremont was sentenced Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court. In May, Slavitt had entered no contest pleas to both of the felony DUI-causing-injury charges that were filed against him. Slavitt, who graduated in 2010 from Claremont High School, was a senior at San Francisco State University, majoring in business administration, at the time of the crash, according to court records.

Buenrostro’s sister, Mayra, told Berkeleyside this week that the family felt it “finally got justice for my sister.”


Vicky, now 22, “is still at Berkeley and — with supports in place — she got to participate in her commencement ceremony” in May, Mayra said. “Given the severity of her injuries she was only able to return to school part time, which set her behind.”

The night of the crash, Slavitt showed “objective signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication,” according to court papers, and “performed poorly on field sobriety tests.” Blood alcohol and breath tests showed him to be intoxicated as well.

Slavitt told police he had “consumed several beers prior to driving” and striking Buenrostro in the crosswalk.

According to a February letter from Slavitt’s psychologist, which is part of the court file, “He has a strong desire to heal himself and deeply regrets causing this young woman the pain she has incurred from the accident. Esteban is making crucial progress toward getting to the root of his psychological disorders.” The psychologist said Slavitt was working to address both anxiety and alcohol problems.

Slavitt, who has no other criminal history, was represented in the case by his father, Steven Slavitt, who worked for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office before he retired, according to court papers.

Slavitt was facing a maximum possible sentence of six years in prison given the charges of which he was found guilty. The Alameda County probation department recommended the “low term” for sentencing after assessing the case and Slavitt’s background.

“He appears to have the support of family and has accepted responsibility for his criminal misconduct,” the probation officer wrote. The report continued, however, that “Compliance could be challenged by the defendant’s alcohol dependency issues,” as well as “his ability to recognize and avoid high risk situations” and other factors.


The probation officer recommended treatment for alcohol abuse both while Slavitt is incarcerated and afterward. He will be required to use an ignition interlock device and prohibited from drinking once he is released from jail, according to court papers. Slavitt is set to serve his jail time in Alameda County.

According to court records, Slavitt and his mother both addressed the court during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing before Judge James Cramer. Mayra Buenrostro also read a family impact statement regarding her sister, according to the court file.

Mayra told Berkeleyside this week that the family has been advised to keep comments to a minimum due to the severity of the case.

A civil lawsuit does not appear to have been filed in the matter, according to Alameda County Superior Court records online.