DUI driver sentenced for hit and run that killed a toddler

By SDCN Editor

San Diego, CA–A local man was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, along with an additional four years for fleeing the scene, after driving under the influence, and fatally striking a 1-year-old child, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said Tuesday, 

On September 24, 2022, Margarito Angeles Vargas, 47 driving with a blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit, struck the young girl as she crossed a residential street in City Heights with her sisters and grandparents. The tragic incident unfolded in broad daylight, leaving a community in grief.

On November 15, a jury convicted Angeles Vargas of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury, hit and run causing death and driving on a suspended license. Judge Amador delivered the sentence in San Diego Superior Court.

The events leading to the fatal collision began when Angeles Vargas, leaving a baby shower, ran a stop sign and narrowly avoided colliding with a parked truck. He then careened down the 3900 block of Redwood Street, striking the victim in an unmarked crosswalk as her family walked. Despite residential surveillance capturing the collision, the driver’s face and license plate were not visible.

A witness to the incident pursued Angeles Vargas, confronting him and capturing his license plate information, and cell phone footage. The evidence played a pivotal role in aiding the police in locating and apprehending the suspect.

District Attorney Summer Stephan expressed her outrage at the senseless loss of a child’s life and condemned the defendant’s decision to flee the scene. She credited the good Samaritan neighbor for providing critical information to law enforcement, ensuring justice was served.

“DUI and drugged drivers have taken so many innocent lives this year, and while every loss is devastating, the senseless DUI murder of a 1-year-old child is beyond deplorable,” said Stephan. She issued a stern warning that drinking and driving not only carries severe consequences but can result in a life prison sentence.

Because Angeles Vargas had been convicted of a DUI charge previously, he signed a form known as a Watson advisement. The purpose of the Watson advisement is to create a legal record that a defendant is aware of the dangers that DUI poses not only to oneself but to others. If a person is involved in another DUI in the future, and that DUI leads to an accident that injures or kills someone, they cannot claim that they didn’t understand the consequences. Legally, this means that a defendant can be tried for second-degree murder in a circumstance like this case.

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