Hit-andrun driver charged with vehicular manslaughter

A hit-and- run driver who caused another motorist to swerve off the road and plow into a South Los Angeles apartment building, killing a 5-year- old boy, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, according to authorities.

Jorge Ruiz-Garcia, 28, surrendered to police on Dec. 9, more than a week after he fled the collision but left the front grill of his car at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The incident occurred just after midnight on Dec. 1, when the driver of a 2012 Chevy Cruz crossed into opposing traffic in the 2800 block of South Central Avenue, ran off the roadway and crashed into a two-story apartment building.

Six family members were home at the time of the crash, and the boy and his father were pinned beneath the vehicle. The driver, identified by police as Vrenda Moreno, 23, told authorities she swerved because a vehicle cut her off; she was found to be under the influence of alcohol, according to officials. She was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. On Monday however, the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division said in a statement that Moreno, who suffered minor injuries from the crash, had been released from custody “after detectives discovered the actual cause of the collision.”

Detectives recovered video from surveillance cameras in the area that showed a man getting into a vehicle parked in a northbound direction along the east curb of Central Avenue, police said. The driver started his car and made a U-turn directly into the path of Moreno’s northbound Chevy Cruz.

The vehicles made contact, with the front grill of the turning vehicle becoming dislodged, police said. Moreno continued in a northwestern direction and hit the apartment building. Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, said Ruiz-Garcia has been charged with one felony count of hit-and- run driving resulting in death and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter.

Santiago said Moreno has not been charged and that prosecutors have asked police for further information before deciding whether to charge her.

By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times

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