Her Son’s Death is an Injustice, Says Mother

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It was two years ago when Maria Elena Soliz was told the news that no mother should have to hear.  Her 21 year old son was killed by a drunk driver.  The incident took place on Nov. 12, 2005 at the intersection of 7th St. and 30th Ave. in East Moline, just down the street of where she lives, an intersection that she crosses almost every day. 

Joseph L. Velez was riding on the passenger side of a 2005 Chevy Silverado with three other friends at about 1:50 a.m. when Adam M. Mazola, 23, was driving his mother’s Jeep Grand Cherokee over 90 mph across 7th St. and struck the victims after taking a red light.  The three other passengers recovered from their injuries.  The driver of the vehicle Joseph was riding in was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol according to tests.

 

Since then, Ms. Soliz’s life was flipped upside-down and has had to deal with not only the death of her only son, but she has had to spend a tremendous amount of time in court dealing with a civil lawsuit.  She was also presented with divorce papers 2 days prior to the accident.  To top it off she has not seen Joseph’s daughter since the funeral because the mother is fighting for damages awarded in a civil suit Ms. Soliz has filed against Mr. Mazola and the bars he was drinking at that night. 

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According to Ms. Soliz the money that people donated to pay for a cross she is planning to put at the intersection has now been given to her granddaughter’s mother, all of this gives you a picture of the nightmare Ms. Soliz is currently dealing with.  

 

“It’s hectic,” says of the whole ordeal. “I didn’t even get time to mourn my son."

 

Mr. Mazola has now been found guilty and awaits a final sentencing which is capped off at eight years maximum of which he has to serve at least 85 percent of the time.  He will also be deducted the two years he spent in county jail and could be released in less than 6 years as part of a plea agreement.  They will meet for another hearing on Nov. 21 with a final sentencing on Dec. 13; but this does not bring closure to Ms. Soliz and her daughters.

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“It’s an injustice,” she says of the sentencing.  She says that if a Hispanic would have committed the same crime there would probably be a big difference in the sentencing.

 

Ms. Soliz also blames Mr. Mazola’s mother who gave him her car keys when she knew he didn’t have a valid license, had been drinking and has prior drunk driving convictions.   She says the bars and taverns who served him that night are also to blame. 

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She hopes that at least there is some awareness of how many young people are drinking and driving and that parents realize the danger many of them put themselves and others in.

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