NewsLocal News


Family friends of Henrico child killed lying in bed not satisfied with reckless driving charge

Posted at 3:33 PM, Oct 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-21 14:51:10-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A 23-year-old man was charged with reckless driving on private property after he drove through the wall of an apartment building.

Ronnie R. De La Cruz's Dodge Neon entered the Vasquez family's apartment on October 5 and landed on a bed where it trapped a mother and her two children underneath.

Raul Exekiel Nicholas Vasquez, 6, later died from his injuries. The child's mother and younger brother survived.

Raul Exekiel Nicholas Vasquez was killed after a car plowed into the apartment building where he lives with his mother and younger brother.

Raul Exekiel Nicholas Vasquez was killed after a car plowed into the apartment building where he lives with his mother and younger brother.

De La Cruz lives in the Three Chopt West apartment complex where the accident occurred.

Investigators have not yet said what caused De La Cruz to drive into the apartment's wall. Investigators continue to wait for toxicology tests to be returned. Charges could be upgraded in this case should the test results indicated De La Cruz was driving impaired.

Luz Toussieng used to babysit Vasquez, and also works at the school he attended.

Through tears, Toussieng said “this family doesn’t need this pain. A wonderful life, everybody in the school loved him.”

Both Toussieng and her daughter, Laura Perez, said after more than two weeks of waiting to see if Vasquez’s family would get justice, they are thankful police have now charged the driver.

Still, they said the penalty is not strong enough.

“Someone charged with reckless driving could be someone down the highway who just hit another car. This man caused a child to die, and their whole family is destroyed right now,” Perez said.

CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone said, at this point, it would seem investigators do not have enough evidence to charge De La Cruz with anything more than a misdemeanor

“The focus is not on the fact that there is a loss of life, or whether someone is injured versus loss of life, the focus here is on the level of negligence with the defendant,” Stone said.

On Monday, a judge ordered substance abuse testing that does not include alcohol testing, and a mental health evaluation.

“If someone consumes alcohol or drugs, that’s an easy one for prosecutors and increases it to a manslaughter,” Stone said.

"It's been very difficult and complicated," said Drionis Flores, Exekiel's Godmother.

Speaking through a translator last week, the boy's heartbroken mother, Ruth Vasquez, remembered her six-year-old son.

Vasquez described Exekiel as a happy-go-lucky kid who loved school, playing games and watching his little brother.

"He was very fond of him and he cared about him a lot," Flores said. "He was very protective towards him and sometimes he would carry him around."

Vasquez that said she was changing her three-year-old son Edison's diaper while Exekiel was in the living room playing with his cousin. They were just about to leave the apartment when the car plowed into the apartment.

"It all happened really quick. She turned around, she saw the car coming and then she was trapped under the car and she saw her son was also trapped under the car," said Flores.

Vasquez said that her youngest son was hiding under a bed while she and Exekiel were pinned under the car.

"She was screaming for people to come help her son," said Flores.

Now, the Vasquez family wants justice for Exekiel and for the driver to pay for he did.

"It's not fair that he's out there. And they want justice," said Flores. "Even if he gets arrested, it's not going to change the fact that he took away her son."

Friends of the Vasquez family set-up a website to collect funds during this difficult time.