A North County attorney admits she ran a red light, killing a nanny and seriously injuring a toddler in a stroller.
Attorneys for Christine Padilla, of Del Sur, entered guilty pleas on her behalf Friday to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and two other infractions - running red light and failure to yield at a crosswalk.
Padilla was behind the wheel of an SUV when it drove into the crosswalk at the intersection of Camino Del Sur and Via Verrazzano and struck a nanny pushing a stroller on Feb. 1.
Monserrat Mendez, 41, was fatally injured in the crash and died later at a nearby hospital. The 14-month-old boy in the stroller suffered multiple injuries including shattered spleen, fractured femur, pelvic fracture, broken rib, broken leg and skull fracture.
Padilla admitted she was sleep-deprived to officers at the scene according to a police report.
More than 20 friends and family members gathered Friday for the change in plea. Padilla was not in court when her attorneys spoke on her behalf.
Judge Charles Gill did two unusual things for a misdemeanor case that indicate he understands the significance of the case.
Padilla will be required to appear for her sentencing on June 7. She is also required to report to a probation officer so there will be a probation report produced.
Judge Gill would not allow a plea agreement for sentencing. He will make his decision based on arguments from both sides, what the victims’ families say at the time of sentencing and the probation report.
The consequences range from no jail time to up to a year in local custody.
The toddler’s mother was in court and said the boy is doing well and appears to have no long-term effects from his injuries.
Padilla – who’s an attorney herself in the North County -- is facing a civil suit filed by an attorney for the Mendez family, particularly the nanny's two children left behind after her death.
The suit also targets the driver’s husband, Jeffrey Padilla, as being negligent for allowing his wife to drive one day after giving birth.
The police report says that after the accident Padilla told officers she was driving home from her sister’s house and knew she ran a red light, but by the time she realized what she had done, it was too late.
Padilla told officers: “I’m sorry – I’m sleep-deprived and I just looked up and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it’s red.’ And then oh my God, and she was right there.”