An 8-year-old Visalia boy was killed Sunday in a single-vehicle crash north of Los Banos and his mother, the driver of the vehicle in which he was riding, has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the California Highway Patrol reported Monday.
The driver, Vanessa Bueno, 33, of Visalia, was booked into Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony DUI and manslaughter charges after a breathalyzer test for alcohol was conducted, CHP Officer Lance Velez said.
Bueno thought she was on Highway 99 when the crash happened on Highway 165, Velez said.
All of the people in the 2006 Chrysler Pacifica were Visalia residents, according to the CHP.
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Bueno and a 15-year-old girl were treated for minor injuries, while a 1-year-old girl was not injured, Velez said.
Bueno is the boy’s mother, Velez said, adding that she shares the same last name as the infant. But Velez on Monday couldn’t confirm Bueno’s relationship with the infant or the 15-year-old girl.
Bueno around 1 p.m. Sunday was driving the van north on Highway 165 north of Los Banos, south of the Salt Slough Bridge, Velez said.
Bueno lost control of the vehicle for unknown reasons, Velez said. The van veered off the roadway, onto the dirt shoulder and overturned, landing in a field east of the highway.
Velez said the Visalia boy, whose name was withheld Monday morning pending notification of his family, was sitting in the third row of seats behind the front passenger seat at the time of the accident. He was not wearing a seat belt, officers said.
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel. Velez said reports indicate he died due to blunt force trauma.
The 15-year-old girl was wearing a seat belt, and the infant girl was in a child restraint seat. The 15-year-old girl was transported to Los Banos Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.
Velez said Bueno told police she thought she was driving on I-99, and it wasn’t clear where she was coming from or where she was going.
Bueno remained in custody Monday on $400,000 bail, according to Merced County Jail records.