SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A Hayward man who was drunkenly driving his truck in San Francisco and struck a boy leaving a baseball game at nearby AT&T Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony DUI charges.
Andrew Vargas, 22, struck Ryan White with his white pickup truck at the intersection of Mission and New Montgomery streets the night of Aug. 4, 2011.
Ryan, who was 9 years old at the time but has since turned 10, was visiting from Philadelphia with his family and had just left a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies at the ballpark.
KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:
Vargas also struck a woman, causing minor injuries, as well as two parked cars before fleeing.
He drove to his apartment in Hayward, then tried to flee again when he saw police waiting outside, but was arrested and found to have a bottle of Jagermeister liquor in the vehicle, prosecutors said.
He initially pleaded not guilty to felony DUI causing injury and hit-and-run charges, but agreed to plead guilty Wednesday in exchange for serving one year in jail and having the hit-and-run charges dismissed.
Vargas’ defense attorney Randall Knox said outside of court that his client “wanted to take responsibility for his actions.”
Knox said Vargas, who had no criminal history and was a recent graduate of California State University, East Bay, had a friend visit from Mexico City and “got carried away drinking and made the horrible decision to get behind the wheel.”
He said Vargas and the friend were drinking a mix of Mountain Dew and vodka prior to the incident.
His mother, Xiomara Vargas, also talked to reporters outside of court. She began crying and said he “is very, very sorry for what has happened.”
She said Vargas did not know he had hit the boy and when he found out, “he started crying right away.”
Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said Vargas “is not a horrible person but he made a horrible mistake.”
Talai said he has spoken extensively with the White family and “would not have struck the deal we struck without their blessing.”
He said Ryan’s health is improving and he is back in school part-time in Philadelphia, but “he still has a long road of recovery ahead of him.”
A statement released by the family following the incident said Ryan had suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as fractures to his pelvis, left leg and ankle and a laceration to his liver.
Vargas, who will receive credit for the time he has already served in jail, will likely be released in June at the earliest after he is sentenced, according to Talai.
The plea agreement also requires Vargas to pay a to-be-determined amount of restitution to the White family and the other woman who was struck, serve five years’ probation and complete a nine-month school for DUI offenders, as well as pay various fines and fees.
Vargas also will speak to youth about the dangers and consequences of drunken driving, an element of the deal that was important to the White family, Talai said.
The case will return to court March 21 to set a sentencing date.
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