Darwin Almeida, 3, was killed in a Santa Ana car accident, which officials say was caused by a suspected drunk driver who also left the scene of the crash. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal pedestrian accident occurred the evening of November 9, 2011 at the intersection of Fifth and North Bewley streets. Darwin’s mother was walking in an unmarked crosswalk carrying her 1-year-old daughter and holding Darwin by the hand. At the time, an SUV pulled out of a nearby parking lot at a high rate of speed. The vehicle struck the boy, pulling him underneath the vehicle. The woman and the baby were lifted onto the hood of the vehicle before being thrown off. The driver of the SUV fled the scene.
Tragic Hit-and-Run Collision
Darwin was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries. The woman and the girl suffered relatively minor injuries. Police were able to track down the SUV to a mobile home park using the license plate number witnesses had jotted down at the scene. After an investigation, police arrested 23-year-old Angel Alberto Cruz Perez on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, felony DUI, and driving without a license.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members of Darwin Almeida for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep this grieving family in your thoughts and prayers. I also wish the two injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Violation of Laws
Based on this news report, the driver of the SUV, Perez, violated a number of laws. He was driving without a license. He was under the influence of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test hours after the collision. He mowed down the pedestrians who were in an unmarked crosswalk and above all, left the victims – two of them young children – lying on the roadway, without stopping or seeking medical assistance for them. Unconscionable!
I commend eyewitnesses at the scene of this DUI collision for doing a great job of writing down the license plate number of the hit-and-run vehicle and helping police apprehend the suspect.
According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges under California Penal Code Section 191.5 (a). In addition, leaving the scene of an injury car accident is a felony under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a).
Protecting Victims’ Rights
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, injured victims and families of deceased victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Santa Ana personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. In cases where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, a knowledgeable injury attorney will better advise victims about how they can seek compensation through their own auto insurance policy. For more information about the dangers of driving under the influence, please visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) web site at www.madd.org.