Man charged with killing Fla. paramedics in crash found unfit for trial
With three psychologists offering varying views of the mental stability of Genaro De La Cruz Ajqui, a judge ordered him to be taken to a forensic hospital
By Jane Musgrave
The Palm Beach Post
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A 40-year-old Jupiter man has been declared incompetent to stand trial on DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges in the June 1 crash that killed two Jupiter paramedics.
With three psychologists offering varying views of the mental stability of Genaro De La Cruz Ajqui, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Dina Keever-Agrama on Tuesday ordered him to be taken to a state-run forensic hospital for treatment and evaluation. She is to review his condition on Nov. 30 to determine whether he is ready to be tried in the deaths of paramedics Lahiri Garcia, 51, and 36-year-old Paul Besaw.
While eager to see De La Cruz brought to trial, Besaw’s widow, Dawn, said she understands Keever-Agrama’s decision.
“I think she understands the severity of the case,” she said. “Two guys, who did nothing but work for the community and save lives, died. She just wants to make sure that everything is in order before we go to a hearing.”
The week has been an emotional roller-coaster for Besaw, her 6-year-old daughter and Garcia’s family. They were in Washington, D.C. over the weekend for the National EMS Memorial Service, where they joined the families of 34 other paramedics across the nation who were killed last year in the line of duty.
“It’s a huge honor,” Dawn Besaw said. “But it was extremely sad.”
Next week marks the first anniversary of the deaths of her husband and Garcia, partners who worked for American Medical Response, a private ambulance company. Police said De La Cruz was at the wheel of a red Chrysler convertible that slammed into the ambulance on Indiantown Road at Philadelphia Drive. The force of the 3 a.m. crash caused the ambulance to flip, killing the two men.
De La Cruz, who was pulled from his car, was also injured. He has been held at the Palm Beach County jail without bond since his release from St. Mary’s Medical Center. He is charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter and two counts of vehicular homicide along with driving without a license and driving under the influence.
De La Cruz’s wife told police her husband had been drinking for hours before the crash. “He was drunk,” she said.
The wife’s statement along with a report that shows De La Cruz’s blood-alcohol level was more than double the amount at which Florida drivers are considered impaired gives Besaw hope that De La Cruz will ultimately be punished for the deaths of her husband and Garcia. “He has zero defense,” she said.
In the meantime, she said, she and her daughter are trying to wring some good out of tragedy. They founded a nonprofit, Hand2Paw Happiness, to help other children deal with their grief. Teaming up with Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League , each month they invite grieving children to come to the suburban West Palm Beach animal shelter to play with dogs and cats to forget their woes.
“We have to give back,” Dawn Besaw said.