Twelve-year-old Isaiah Suarez Rodriguez loved superhero movies, playing Animal Crossing and swimming with his family. He wanted to become a chef when he grew up.
But Isaiah died in November 2021 when a pickup truck driven by an off-duty deputy slammed into his sister’s car at 95 mph in a school zone in South Gate, according to Los Angeles prosecutors and KABC.
Ricardo Castro, 28, who is still employed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, now faces murder and vehicular manslaughter charges, the District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The impact flung the car driven by Isaiah’s 19-year-old sister 75 feet, McClatchy News reported. She tried to slow the child’s bleeding by wrapping a sweater around his head, but he later died.
District Attorney George Gascón said in the release that Castro showed a “conscious disregard” for the life and safety of others by speeding in a school zone.
“Tragically, a 12-year-old boy was killed in the space where he should have been most safe,” Gascón said.
At a news conference, Gascón said Castro has a long history of speeding and crashes, KABC reported. He was a passenger in a fatal wreck three months before Isaiah’s death.
“First of all, I want to say that I love my son. I love you, Isaiah, and I miss you every single day,” his mother, Betsabe Suarez, said at the briefing, according to the station.
Castro, whose arraignment was continued to March 23, did not enter a plea, the release said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told McClatchy News that Castro was removed from field duties after the crash but was still being paid. He was placed on unpaid leave once charges were filed.
The department said it could not comment on the case but that employees are expected to uphold the “highest ethical and professional standards.”
South Gate police said the lengthy investigation “required a tremendous amount of patience and expertise to ensure that we had all of the factual information and evidence,” the release said.
If convicted, Castro faces up to 25 years to life in prison, KABC reported.
South Gate is a city of 91,000 people about 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
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