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Orange County

DUI Suspect's Record Draws Parents' Outrage

Traffic: Two men are in comas following an accident Sunday in Mission Viejo. The driver's license was reinstated only days ago.

June 04, 2002|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The families of two young men critically injured by an allegedly drunk driver expressed outrage Monday that the accident happened just two days after the driver's license had been reinstated after a suspension for driving under the influence.

"It makes me very angry," said John Conder, father of Jonathan Conder, 21, who was in a coma Monday afternoon at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo. "My beliefs tell me that there is some forgiveness somewhere. I just don't know where it is right now."

Also injured were Angela Bailey, 18, who was expected to be released after being treated for broken bones, and Joshua Rogal, 18, who was reported in critical but stable condition.

"We're just hoping for the best," said Sharry Graham, Rogal's mother. "He's conscious for only moments at a time. I've spoken to him, but I'm not sure that he knows who I am."

Rogal, who is to graduate from high school in two weeks, was driving his white 2001 Pontiac Sunbird through a Mission Viejo intersection about 12:45 a.m. Sunday when he was broadsided by a truck that authorities said had run a red light.

Police said its driver--Mark Staffon, 20, of Mission Viejo--had open alcohol containers in his Chevrolet pickup and tested well above the legal limit for alcohol.

"He was arrested at the hospital but released for medical attention," said Sgt. Steve Doan, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "We still have witnesses to contact, but eventually we hope to take it to the district attorney's office to have him charged with DUI."

Staffon, who was treated for minor injuries, would not comment.

According to police and Department of Motor Vehicles records, Staffon's driver's license was suspended for a year after he was stopped in October 2000 while driving with a blood-alcohol level of .26--more than three times the legal limit.

Records also show he was previously cited for driving without a fastened seat belt and failure to show proof of insurance.

Misdemeanor charges of possessing alcohol while under 21 were dismissed in February after he completed an alcohol awareness program.

Records show that Staffon's license was reinstated after he paid a $100 fee Friday--two days before the accident.

"I know I need to feel real angry about that," Graham said Monday, "but right now I'm just focused on Joshua."

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