A misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge will be filed against the juvenile driver of a pickup truck that went out of control in Parlier, killing 9-year-old Diego Estrada last week, Parlier police Chief David Cerda said Monday.
The juvenile’s name is not being released because he’s under 18, Cerda said. He will face charges in juvenile court, the chief said.
“He was traumatized” by the death of the child walking to school, Cerda said. “It wasn’t deliberate or malicious.”
Over the weekend, the driver was brought to the police department, booked, cited and released, he said.
Additionally, the boy’s mother is being investigated on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, by allowing her son to drive the pickup even though he is unlicensed, Cerda said.
The mother is believed to have known that her son had been driving the truck, Cerda said. But police are not releasing her name pending submission of the police report to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office later this week, he said.
Police have conferred with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office during the investigation, he said.
Diego died at the scene Thursday morning when the pickup truck lost traction on a street wet from fog, spun into a wall and hit three children walking to school.
The impact also injured Diego’s 16-year-old sister and a 17-year-old boy.
The driver is a student at Parlier High and has been cooperative with investigators, Cerda said. A passenger in the pickup, also a student at the high school, fled but was located and has been cooperating with investigators, he said. He does not face charges.
Diego Estrada was a fourth-grade student at Brletic Elementary School, on the grounds of Parlier High and about a mile’s walk east of the accident scene. The crash happened about 9:30 a.m. at Tuolumne Street and Madsen Avenue near S. Ben Benavidez Elementary School.
News of the accident quickly swept through the small Fresno County farming town.
At the crash scene Thursday evening a crowd gathered, adding to a cross of candles and leaving stuffed bears, balloons, a signed football and a vase of flowers. One of the balloons read, “Un angelito mas en el cielo” — “One more angel in the sky.”