David Hernandez, Kate Morrissey and Pauline Repard, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 9, 2017
A drunken driving suspect in a hit-and-run crash that severely injured a 6-year-old boy in San Ysidro over the weekend had been deported from the U.S. at least 15 times, authorities said Tuesday.
Constantino Banda-Acosta, 38, was last deported Jan. 18, with at least 14 prior cases since 2002, federal authorities said.
Banda-Acosta is accused of speeding west on Camino de La Plaza, running a stop sign at Dairy Mart Road and slamming his pickup into a Honda Accord about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. The pickup driver did not stop.
The car that was struck was occupied by a family driving home after a day trip to Disneyland. They were a block away from their home when the crash occurred, a relative said.
The speeding Chevrolet Silverado hit the driver and passenger’s side where the boy, Lennox Lake, was sitting in his car seat, said his grandmother, Cheryl Lake.
The boy’s father, Benjamin, became trapped. His wife, Ingrid, crawled out of the front passenger seat and rushed to aid Lennox, who was unconscious, not breathing and bleeding from his nostrils, ears and head, his grandmother said.
The child suffered a major head injury and was taken to a hospital. As of Tuesday night, he had undergone two surgeries at Rady Children’s Hospital, Cheryl Lake said.
Despite a long road ahead, his family and doctors are “cautiously optimistic” the boy will make a full recovery, his grandmother said.
His family set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the medical bills and other expenses.
A few blocks away, shortly after midnight, agents found a damaged pickup that matched the description Ingrid Lake gave them. Inside were two men, who were detained.
Banda-Acosta was identified as the driver. He was booked into jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run with injury, drunken driving with injury and driving without a valid license.
The Border Patrol took custody of Banda-Acosta’s passenger, also an unauthorized immigrant, agency officials said.
His criminal history includes arrests stemming from domestic violence allegations against his wife of 18 years, Chula Vista police Capt. Fritz Reber said.
ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said the agency would again seek deportation for Banda-Acosta after any conviction and sentence is served in connection with the DUI and hit-and-run crash.
Because of the Banda-Acosta’s immigration history, the boy and his family will be eligible for help from the new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE, office created by President Donald Trump in an executive order. The office aids victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants.