New evidence leads to arrest in toddler’s death

New evidence leads to arrest in toddler’s death
A memorial was set up on Encinitas Boulevard in honor of 3-year-old Juan Ruiz, who was struck and killed by a car Nov. 1. Hours after, Sheriff’s deputies reported that the collision was an accident. However, the Sheriff’s Department is now charging Agustin Morales with manslaughter and other counts. Photo by Jared Whitlock

ENCINITAS — Agustin Morales, 33, is now under arrest in connection with striking and killing 3-year-old Juan Ruiz with his car the morning of Nov. 1, the Sheriff’s Department said on Wednesday. 

Morales was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence resulting in death, identity theft and presenting false identification to an officer.

Immediately following the incident, Sheriff’s deputies labeled the collision as an accident, and didn’t arrest Morales then. However, Morales was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on Nov. 4 after investigators uncovered new evidence, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony O’Boyle.

Juan was walking on the sidewalk of Encinitas Boulevard with his mother, who was pushing his 1-year-old sibling in a stroller. They approached a driveway leading to the Essex Heights Apartments at about 7:20 a.m.

Morales’ Toyota Corolla hit Juan when turning westbound onto Encinitas Boulevard from the Essex Heights Apartments’ driveway. The boy was pinned underneath the car, and his mother pounded on one of Morales’ windows. After stopping, Morales and a witness pulled him out from underneath the vehicle.

Juan was then transported to Scripps Encinitas Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Shortly after the collision, the Sheriff’s Department reported that Juan and his family were walking westbound on Encinitas Boulevard. Morales told authorities that he didn’t see Juan.

Subsequent interviews with witnesses and surveillance footage showed that Juan and his family were in fact walking eastbound toward a nearby bus stop, according to O’Boyle. Based on that evidence, Sheriff’s detectives are alleging that Morales should have seen Juan, O’Boyle said.

Morales tested positive for alcohol in his system following the collision. The amount was below the legal limit, and Morales wasn’t arrested at that time. Because investigators are alleging that Morales is now responsible for the collision, Sheriff’s detectives filed the charge of driving under the influence resulting in death, O’Boyle said.

Investigators are also alleging that Morales presented Sheriff’s deputies with a fake ID. O’Boyle said investigators determined that Morales is living in the U.S. illegally.

Morales has prior drunken driving convictions on his record, according to O’Boyle.

Morales was due to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon, but the arraignment was rescheduled to Thursday — after press time.

A memorial with flowers and stuffed animals has been set up at the scene of the collision.

 

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