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A memorial for Rodrigo Tapia Jr., 13, near the intersection of North Broadway and Country Club Lane where he was killed in a suspected DUI crash. Photo by Samantha Nelson
A memorial for Rodrigo Tapia Jr., 13, near the intersection of North Broadway and Country Club Lane where he was killed in a suspected DUI crash. Photo by Samantha Nelson
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Man pleads not guilty to alleged DUI crash that killed Escondido teen

ESCONDIDO — A man who allegedly drove drunk and crashed into another vehicle in Escondido, killing a 13-year-old boy who was riding in his car, pleaded not guilty this week to charges that include gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Alexander Tito Oroz, 20, is accused in Saturday night’s crash that killed Rodrigo Tapia Jr., known to family and friends as Junior Tapia.

Oroz, who remains jailed without bail, faces up to 12 years and eight months in state prison if convicted of all counts.

Police said the alleged DUI crash happened at around 10 p.m. at the intersection of North Broadway and Country Club Lane.

While officials did not disclose the relationship between Oroz and Tapia Jr., family members told local news outlets that Oroz was the boyfriend of the teen’s sister. Tapia Jr.’s sister was also riding in Oroz’s car and sustained injuries in the crash, according to family members.

Thirteen-year-old Rodrigo Tapia Jr., known to family and friends as Junior Tapia, was a passenger who was killed in a suspected DUI collision on April 27 in Escondido. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Thirteen-year-old Rodrigo Tapia Jr., known to family and friends as Junior Tapia, was a passenger who was killed in a suspected DUI collision on April 27 in Escondido. Photo by Samantha Nelson

A GoFundMe page created to raise funds for Tapia Jr.’s funeral expenses said he attended Quantum Academy in Escondido and described him as “a beloved son, grandson, brother, nephew, and friend and loved by so many.”

A statement posted Monday to Quantum Academy’s website reads:

“We are devastated by the tragic death of Rodrigo, a beloved member of our Quantum Academy community. Everybody knew Rodrigo. He was a great friend and always stepped up as a leader. He was a really good athlete, and he loved sports, especially baseball. Our district’s crisis intervention team was on campus today providing support, and counselors were available to meet with students, staff members, and parents individually and in groups. Our classroom teachers also made time to discuss this loss during their morning circles with students. Quantum is a close-knit school, and we are all grieving right now.”

Tapia Jr. also played baseball for an Escondido National Little League team and dreamed of playing for the San Diego Padres, the online fundraiser said.

Escondido Youth Baseball is also holding a food fundraiser starting at 9 a.m. on May 4 at Mountain View Park, 1160 S. Citrus Avenue, Escondido. The group is selling tacos and donating the proceeds to the Tapia family.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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