ESCONDIDO — A 13-year-old girl who allegedly crashed her mother’s pilfered SUV off an Escondido street while fleeing a traffic stop, killing two homeless men sleeping on the roadside, pleaded not guilty today to vehicular manslaughter and other charges.
The teenager, whose name has been withheld because she is a minor, was taken into custody Thursday morning and booked into juvenile hall in San Diego, according to the Escondido Police Department.
Shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 12, the girl, who had taken her mother’s Ford Explorer without permission and was driving around with a friend in tow, was pulled over for a traffic violation near the intersection of Interstate 15 and state Route 78, Lt. Kevin Toth said.
As an officer walked up to the SUV, the teen allegedly sped off to the east, then fled for about six blocks before losing control of the vehicle while trying to make a left onto North Ash Street.
The SUV careened off the roadway, fatally injuring Mateo Salvador, 33, and 51-year-old Sofio Sotelo Torres as they lay in a patch of shrubbery next to a concrete-block wall, according to police.
The underage driver then allegedly got out of the damaged vehicle and made a failed attempt to escape on foot. After being caught and questioned by police, she was released to the custody of her family pending completion of investigations into the deadly wreck.
Along with two counts of vehicular manslaughter, the girl also faces charges of hit-and-run resulting in death and evading police causing death.
She remains in custody at Juvenile Hall pending her next court date, an April 21 readiness hearing.