South Florida

Driver arrested, faces DUI charge in crash that maimed South Dade principal

Javier Perez
Javier Perez

The dental assistant who plowed her SUV into a West Miami-Dade baseball field — maiming a popular high school principal — was drunk by nearly three times above the legal limit, authorities said Tuesday.

Blood tests showed that one hour after the devastating wreck, Marilyn Aguilera’s blood-alcohol content level was .227, well above the legal limit of .08, according to an arrest warrant released Tuesday after she was arrested.

Miami-Dade police booked Aguilera, 51, into jail on a charge of driving under the influence in a crash that caused serious injury.

Aguilera was jailed three weeks after the violent crash that nearly killed South Dade High principal Javier Perez, who is known for his signature bow ties, his accessibility to students and love of sports. The injuries to his lower body were so bad that doctors were forced to amputate his legs.

Perez’s near-death encounter — while he was coaching his son’s little-league championship game — stunned witnesses, as well as students and parents in South Miami-Dade. Days after the crash, students donning bow ties held a candle-light vigil to support him. A page has raised more than $132,000 for Perez’s medical expenses. A 5K walk will be held on June 5 in Hialeah to help raise money for the hospital bills.

International superstar Pitbull even wished Perez well in a video.

Aguilera will make her first appearance in court on Wednesday.

Aguilera's defense attorney, Richard Gregg, said that his client was “devastated and heart broken” about the crash.

“She told me, ‘If I could give him my legs, I would,’ ” Gregg said. “There are no winners in this.”

Miami-Dade police had held off on arresting Aguilera, 51, until toxicologists ran tests to confirm that she had indeed been drunk. They had plenty of reasons to think so.

On the night of April 26, at 6:26 p.m., Perez and other parents were watching the “Diamond Dreams” league baseball game at Tamiami Park when a silver SUV came careening in from Southwest 117th Avenue.

Police said Aguilera was behind the wheel of 2003 GMC Envoy Sport, which hit a chain-link fence before striking Perez and Elias Espinoza. Perez was trapped underneath the SUV and was later rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he remains.

When police officers arrived, Aguilera appeared “unsteady, confused” and smelled of booze, according to an arrest warrant. She failed a battery of roadside sobriety tests.

“She exhibited mood swings which ranged from being cooperative and polite to being insulting and using profanity,” Miami-Dade Officer Mark Slimak wrote in his arrest warrant. “Her face was flushed, and she both laughed and cried.”

A large open can of Budweiser beer was found on the floorboard of the SUV’s passenger seat. “The carpet which covered the floorboard was soaked with beer,” Slimak wrote.

Aguilera blurted out that she crashed while sending a text message on her phone. Her cellphone, however, was not in her SUV but was actually at home, the warrant said. She ultimately declined to tell police anymore details.

South Dade High principal, Javier Perez, who lost both legs, and almost his life, to a drunk driver in April, made another long-awaited goal happen on Friday.

Her traffic history is far from unblemished. Records show she was issued 14 tickets between 2007 and 2013, for everything from not having proper insurance to improperly backing up.

She has also twice been cited for knowingly driving with a suspended license; in one case, Aguilera beat the charge, in another case, she received a “withhold of adjudication,” meaning it did not count as a conviction.