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Man Charged In Hit-And-Run Accident That Killed Toddler

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(credit: Santa Ana Police Dept.)

(credit: Santa Ana Police Dept.)

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SANTA ANA (CBS) — A man accused of killing a 2-year-old boy in an alleged drunken driving hit-and-run crash in Santa Ana was charged Monday with gross vehicular manslaughter.

Angel Alberto Cruz Perez, 23, was expected to be arraigned Monday afternoon. Prosecutors will ask that he remain jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida.

According to prosecutors, Perez and a friend went to Mariscos Ensenada restaurant in Santa Ana around 3 p.m. Wednesday and drank 24 bottles of beer combined.

The two left the restaurant about 6:20 p.m. and Perez got behind the wheel of his 1998 Toyota 4-Runner, Hayashida said. She said Perez was driving northbound on Bewley Street near Fifth Street when he ran a stop sign and plowed into Yesenia Romero as she carried her year-old daughter and held the hand of her 2-year-old son, Darwin Almeida.

Authorities said the boy was pulled under the vehicle, while Romero was thrown onto the SUV’s hood.  Darwin was pronounced dead on the way to a hospital. Romero suffered cuts to her knees while the infant escaped unharmed.

Santa Ana police arrested Perez after they tracked his SUV to a mobile home park, just a short distance from where the accident occurred. He was taken into custody after failing a field sobriety test.

Perez was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing bodily injury and hit and run with permanent injury or death. He also faces a misdemeanor count of driving without a license, with sentencing enhancement allegations for causing great bodily injury to a child younger than 5 and fleeing the scene.

If convicted, Perez faces up to 16 years in prison.

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