Drunk driver to spend decade in prison for killing 10-year-old girl on her birthday

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A man convicted of driving drunk and killing a 10-year-old girl on her birthday, in north Harris County, will now spend more than a decade behind bars.

Salvador Delao, 23, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the death of 10-year-old Jade Stephens.

She had just left a big celebration for her birthday last year, when Delao ran a stop sign, striking the driver's side of the family's car. Jade died in the back seat, on her birthday.

During the sentencing, Jade's father, Eric Stephens, read an impact statement, saying he did not believe Delao intended to kill his baby, who he called "queen." He was hurt that Delao initially blamed AND yelled at Jade's family at the scene, while she died in their arms.

"There was really nothing I could say to him that was going to bring Jade back," said Eric Stephens. "I just wanted to express to him the feeling that we were feeling, and the feeling that I was feeling. We are serving a life sentence. But he'll be able to get out and function and have a family and hug his daughter and do things with his kids. We won't be able to do that."

Alison Baimbridge with the Harris County District Attorney's Office said, "In this situation, to make sure that their family continues to heal and stays intact, and with Jade's help, we got to the right resolution so we can go on with our life."

"I always look at her death as a sacrifice," said Stephens. "She died to save us three. We very well could have been dead. She took the brunt of that accident. She took all of that truck and we're here, so we have to help her legacy remain and go on."

Delao was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Stephens met with Delao's family for an emotional talk as they apologized for Jade's death.
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