Escondido 13-year-old California girl charged with deaths of two homeless men in joyride gone wrong pleads not guilty. Men identified as Mateo Salvador & Sofio Sotelo Torres.
A 13-year-old California girl who took her mother’s SUV for a joyride — only to end up killing two homeless men sleeping in bushes while fleeing from cops — has been booked on a slew of charges, weeks after the incident.
The men were sleeping behind bushes near a block wall when they were struck.
A juvenile passenger was also in the white Ford Explorer driven by the 13-year-old. The girls had been pulled over for a suspected traffic violation just after 11 p.m., police said last month.
An officer was approaching the SUV when the teen driver slammed on the gas and sped off, cops said.
Teen girl, 13, booked on slew of charges
She later made a U-turn and lost control of the Explorer, which hopped a curb and slammed into a planter in front of a San Diego Gas & Electric transfer facility, authorities said.
‘What the officer didn’t know at the time is that the car was being driven by a 13-year-old girl from Vista who took her mom’s car without her knowing,’ police previously said.
The two victims, who were homeless, have been identified as Mateo Salvador, 33, and Sofio Sotelo Torres, 51, according to cops.
The 13-year-old was arrested on a warrant charging her with two counts of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, hit-and-run causing injury or death and evading police causing injury or death. She was booked into Juvenile Hall on Thursday, police said.
‘Since the tragic event took place, traffic investigators have been working diligently to locate and process evidence, finalize statements from involved parties and witnesses, and attempt to re-create the circumstances surrounding the crash,’ a statement from Escondido Police Department read Thursday.
‘During this time, our investigators have been in communication with the Juvenile Branch of the San Diego County District Attorney’s office on the filing of all possible charges. Investigators prepared an affidavit for an arrest warrant for the 13-year-old driver and the warrant was issued by the court.’
The teen and her juvenile passenger were arrested at the scene and were later released into the custody of their parents, police said.
Descent into homelessness for former Mexican immigrant who’d owned own business
Doorbell cam footage obtained by KGTV shows the moment the Explorer plowed into the two sleeping men.
In the last few years, one of the two homeless men, Sotelo Torres an immigrant from Mexico had struggled to make ends meet. Relatives said Sotelo Torres who had once owned a tree trimming company saw a decline in business along with battling alcoholism.
The hardships led to Sotelo Torres living on the streets, though he would often stay with family – or pop in for a meal from time to time, relatives told NBCSanDiego.
Friends of Torres said relatives had offered him a place to stay, but he declined.
‘He had such a big heart and was so kind to everyone,’ Ayari Lopez Bazan told KGTV. ‘He was the type of man that even though he didn’t have much, he would give his last dollar or piece of food to you so you could be okay.’
Bazan said she hoped ‘justice will be served’ in the fatal crash.
The 13-year-old pleaded not guilty Friday to vehicular manslaughter and the other charges she faces, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
A judge ordered her to remain held at a juvenile facility where she was taken following her arrest Thursday. The un-named teen girl is due back in court on April 21.