A driver has been arrested in connection with a hit-and-run crash that critically injured a 4-year-old girl, four days shy of her fifth birthday.
Ricardo Gamez, 20, of Oceanside, was arrested Thursday afternoon, Riverside police announced in a news release Thursday evening.
Driving a black Ford Mustang, Gamez is suspected of speeding down Magnolia Avenue shortly before 2 p.m. on Monday when he broadsided a Chevy Malibu trying to turn right onto Magnolia Avenue from Nelson Street.
In a booster seat, Carlie Rodriguez was in the left rear passenger seat at the time of the crash, police said. She was taken to the hospital with swelling in her brain and was still listed in critical condition Friday night.
Carlie’s father Aaron Rodriguez was driving the family’s Malibu at the time of the crash. His wife was also in the car. Both were unharmed.
The Mustang (pictured below) was reported stolen soon after the crash, but investigators determined that was a false report meant to conceal the driver's identity.
Investigators originally believed the driver of the Mustang may have been racing another motorist before the crash, but said there is no further evidence to support that and they are no longer looking for the driver of a red or orange two-door coupe seen driving next to the Mustang moments before the collision.
Gamez faces one count of felony hit and run, police said. Additional charges are pending against those involved in falsely reporting the Mustang stolen.