Driver in crash that killed beloved Ames waitress, her son and boyfriend pleads guilty

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Mario Zubia, 37, Cristy Gutierres, 44, and Jesse Gutierres, 10, died in a head-on collision caused by a drunk driver on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. Gutierres' 6-year-old daughter suffered serious injuries and was the only survivor of the crash.

The man charged in an August 2020 crash that killed three Story County residents and injured another filed a written guilty plea in Hardin County last Friday.

Spencer Bultman, 27, of Hampton has pleaded guilty to three counts of homicide by vehicle and one count of serious injury by vehicle. A hearing to accept Bultman's plea and deliver his sentence is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2022, at the Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora.

Prosecutors and Bultman's attorneys reached a plea agreement recommending that Bultman serve 30 years in prison, according to his petition to plead guilty. Under the recommendation, Bultman would be sentenced to concurrent 25-year prison terms for the three homicide counts, along with a consecutive five-year term for the serious injury charge.

Related: Beloved Ames waitress who died in car crash along with her boyfriend and son is mourned by community

Bultman is also ordered to pay victim pecuniary damages, as well as $150,000 each in restitution for the four victims, the petition said.

In his plea, Bultman admitted to unintentionally causing death and injury by driving under the influence of alcohol.

On the evening of Aug. 23, 2020, Bultman was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20 near Alden when he struck a Chevrolet Equinox.

Cristy Gutierres, 44, her boyfriend of five years, 38-year-old Mario Zubia, and her son, 10-year-old Jesse "Alex" Gutierres, died on the scene. The only survivor of the crash in their vehicle was Gutierres' 6-year-old daughter, who was life-flighted to a Des Moines hospital with serious injuries, according to an Iowa State Patrol crash report.

More: 2 adults, child from Story County killed in wrong-way crash in Hardin County

Cristy Gutierres, a resident of Story City, was a waitress at The Grove Cafe in downtown Ames for nearly 22 years. She was "so good with people," her sister Briana Renfro previously told the Ames Tribune.

"She knew if you were having a good day or a bad day, and she knew exactly what you needed in that moment," Renfro said.

Gutierres' son, Alex, had an "extroverted personality, which made you feel like a longtime friend," according to his obituary. His favorite color was black and he was known to give "the best, empathetic hugs."

Zubia, who requested "One More Time" by Gary Allen be played at his memorial service, lived in Ames. In online condolences, his loved ones described him as a kind person and a joy to be around.

Isabella Rosario is a public safety reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at or on Twitter at @irosarioc.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Driver that killed Ames waitress, her son and boyfriend pleads guilty

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