STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- A Stanislaus County family says they're devastated after a suspected drunk driver killed a member of their family on Friday.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department says a DUI suspect ran a red-light Friday night in Riverbank killing Knittel and severely injuring two other people.
The suspect identified as Joshua Sanders was already being tracked by police Friday for a separate hit-and-run incident. Police say a helicopter spotted him leaving Nino’s Place in Modesto, but before they could get to him, he had run the red-light.
“We were on-scene very quickly and we were just about to stop it and this happened,” Sgt. Joshua Clayton told FOX40.
Police gave Sanders a breath test at the scene on Oakdale and Patterson Roads.
“The initial breath test on-scene measured him at a .18 and .19 blood alcohol level,” Clayton said. “Don’t drink and drive. We have Uber. We have Lyft. We have family members. Designate a sober driver.”
The Knittel family believes Knittel was on his way home from Christmas shopping.
“It was a senseless act that should have never happened,” the Knittel family said. “The man deserves to be locked up for a very long time.”
Family describes Knittel as a constant light that pushed his nieces and nephews to follow their dreams.
His family says they were going to ask him on Christmas if he would go to Paris with his niece and nephew – that was their gift to him. It's a gift they won’t be able to give him.
“Christmas will never be the same again. Now, we’ll be thinking about the person we lost,” the Knittel family said.
Sanders is facing manslaughter and drunk driving charges, according to officials.