At 18 months old, Izaiah Wallis was playful and curious before the traffic accident that threw him from his stroller and separated his skull from his spine.
The 17-year old driver charged in the crash that paralyzed the toddler apologized in court Tuesday.
On Oct. 18, Izaiah Wallis was on a morning walk with his grandfather, Abraham Verde, along the 4100 block of Lake Boulevard in Oceanside when an SUV plowed into the pair. Police said the driver tried to leave the scene but was caught and arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. It was only 9 a.m.
The once-active toddler is fighting for his life in a medically-induced coma.
In juvenile court Tuesday, the teenaged driver, who has not been idenfitied because of his age, apologized saying he was praying for the victims and their family.
He apologized directly to Verde saying in Spanish "I want to apologize to you. I never meant to run you over. I apologize for what happened to your grandson. I hope you guys can forgive me for what I've done," the unidentified teenager said.
The teen admitted to drunk driving and causing great bodily injury to the grandfather and grandson. The charges include causing paralysis to a child.
The charges would carry a 12-year maximum but since he’s 17, he would only be in the juvenile system until age 21. So the maximum he could get would be four years.
“The goal of the juvenile justice system is rehab,” Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb. “Probation is very much involved in sentencing of this case.”
So they will make a recommendation that may include custody, counseling, a series of things with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation, according to Loeb. There are juvenile camp facilities and other various custodial sanctions for juveniles.
The teenager said he has changed and apologized to his own parents.
His sentencing is scheduled for November 29.
Izaiah's family members stood outside the juvenile courtroom in Kearny Mesa before and after the hearing, holding signs demanding justice.
Izaiah's father, Jacob Wallis, told the North County Times that he was informed the driver may plead guilty in exchange for a year in custody.
"My family is going to go there and prove a point," Jacob Wallis told the paper. "I mean, what is a year going to do for him (the teenage driver)? My son gets a lifetime sentence."
He was just learning to talk. "To hear him say ‘grandpa’ and things like that was just a great joy,” the child's grandfather Ken Wallis told NBCSanDiego after the accident.
"I want to see him (the teenage driver) get more time," Jacob Wallis told NCTimes. "One year of sitting there is not going to do anything."