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July 31, 2014

Man charged with three counts of second-degree murder in fatal crash

Juan Pablo Gandara-Rodela, 31, was charged Thursday with three counts of second-degree murder or three alternative counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated battery and one count of leaving the scene of an accident in connection with a fatal crash near Towne West Square on Sunday.

Juan Pablo Gandara-Rodela, 31, was charged Thursday with three counts of second-degree murder or three alternative counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated battery and one count of leaving the scene of an accident in connection with a fatal crash near Towne West Square on Sunday.

Gandara-Rodela spoke via a television monitor with a Spanish translator in Judge Joe Kisner’s courtroom. Bond is set at $500,000 and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Aug. 14.

Gandara-Rodela is accused of broadsiding an SUV after speeding through a red light on Maple at Tracy Street early Sunday morning, killing three people seated in the rear of the vehicle.

Zachary Taylor and Jake Hallacy, both 26 and of Valley Center; and Emily Phillips, 21, of McPherson were killed. A 23-year-old driver and a 19-year-old passenger sustained injuries in the crash but are expected to survive, police said.

Police said Gandara-Rodela ran from the scene of the collision and hitched a ride to his house in south Wichita. He was arrested at his home shortly after 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

He appeared in court Wednesday, but no translator was available. So he returned Thursday so the charges could be formally filed.

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