SAN BERNARDINO – A community is in mourning and a family is grieving the loss of their beloved, 3-year-old child, after the toddler was run down by an alleged drunk driver Thursday evening, April 27. The child was struck by a pickup truck while he was crossing a busy San Bernardino street with his family. The family was inside a marked cross walk when the toddler was fatally struck.
Nearby residents and others, who were already devastated after hearing news about the deadly accident, were further saddened after learning the family of the toddler is currently homeless.
The deadly, DUI-related accident happened about 5:50 p.m., on the 1000 block of W. Base Line Street, at the intersection of N. Davidson Avenue in San Bernardino.
According to officials, the family of four – including the victim’s mother, father and a sibling – was inside the cross walk and the toddler was holding his father’s hand when he was struck by the Chevrolet truck. The deadly collision happened after the driver of the truck went around other vehicles that had stopped while the family crossed the street.
After fatally striking the toddler, the driver, who officials later identified as Crystal Marie Fuentes, 34, of San Bernardino, failed to stop and continued driving eastbound, striking another westbound vehicle. She eventually stopped more than two blocks away.
It was not known if Fuentes stopped on her own or if she stopped due to her damaged truck becoming disabled.
Coroner’s officials and devastated family members later identified the victim as Michael Flores. Friends and family, who explained Michael loved to swim with his cousins and friends and would have turned four in June, said Michael’s tragic death has left his mother and father devastated.
“She didn’t want to stop or wait”
San Bernardino Police and Fire officials responded to the scene after multiple horrified and traumatized witnesses called 911 to report the deadly accident.
When officials arrived at the scene, they found the critically injured toddler in the roadway. He was suffering from major traumatic injuries from being hit by the truck.
Medical personnel immediately began life-saving efforts; however, despite their best efforts, the victim succumbed to his injuries and medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The victim’s sobbing and distraught parents were later seen a short distance away from their child. They were being consoled by witnesses and officials.
Officers detained Fuentes without further incident.
During their investigation, officials determined Fuentes was intoxicated when she struck the toddler and the other vehicle, according to San Bernardino Police Lt. Brian Harris.
Witnesses to the accident told investigating officers Fuentes “didn’t want to stop or wait” and went around a line of vehicles that had stopped to allow the family to cross the roadway. When Fuentes went around the stopped vehicles, she struck the toddler, in spite of the father’s efforts to pull him to safety.
During their investigation, officials called for the temporary closure of both directions of travel along Base Line Street. Several nearby streets were also affected by the investigation. The area remained closed to through traffic for several hours while forensic technicians photographed and documented the scene and collected evidence related to the accident.
After investigating the deadly collision, City of San Bernardino police officers arrested Fuentes on suspicion of DUI-related, gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Yet another tragic and preventable death”
According to nearby residents the fatal accident, which nearby resident Bonnie Jenson said resulted in, “yet another senseless, tragic and preventable death,” was just the latest in a long list of other major accidents that have happened at the intersection.
The cross walk is clearly marked with two, 20-foot-tall, overhead flashing yellow lights and lighted yellow signs that indicate the presence of the cross walk. There are also two yellow “pedestrian crossing ahead” signs a block in each direction before the cross walk.
It was not immediately known if the signs were functioning when the boy was fatally struck; however, many locals have complained that in spite of the existing marked cross walk, signals, and signs, they are still not preventing accidents from happening. Many residents say they have complained to the city, saying what they need is an actual traffic signal at the intersection.
The speed limit on the stretch of street where the accident happened is 40 mph. Officials were still working to calculate and determine how fast Fuentes was driving at the time of the collision.
San Bernardino PD officials are investigating the accident. Their investigation is active and ongoing.
An online jail records search revealed Fuentes was booked into the West Valley Detention Center. She remains in custody on $250,000 bail and is scheduled to be seen at San Bernardino Superior Court May 1.
The victim’s mother, Fatima Flores, established a GoFundMe account to help the family pay for Michael’s funeral and other expenses. The family has also requested that anyone wanting to help them contact the Salvation Army at (909) 888-1336.