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Parents of Boy Killed by Truck Sue Driver, Store

Times Staff Writer

The parents of a 4-year-old boy who was hit and killed by a delivery truck while his family scavenged for food behind a Santa Ana supermarket filed suit Thursday against the store, the truck driver and the driver’s employer.

Raquel and Juan Alberto Muniz Sr. claim in their Orange County Superior Court suit that the driver was negligent in pulling out of a delivery area and failed to heed Raquel Muniz’s warning before running over their son, Juan Alberto Muniz Jr.

The suit alleges that the supermarket, Albertson’s, was negligent for maintaining an area where it knew children and others would play and scavenge for food.

The suit does not specify the amount of damages sought, but Santa Ana lawyer Gene J. Goldsman, who represents the Munizes, said he will seek $2 million.

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“The case has caught the imagination of a lot of people who have donated food, money and clothing,” Goldsman said. “Here’s a guy who supported his family for 12 years when he’s suddenly laid off, and he goes out scavenging for food.”

Juan Muniz Sr. was laid off about two years ago when the Immigration and Naturalization Service raided the aluminum siding company where he worked. He has been fighting deportation ever since, his immigration lawyer, Ruben Hernandez, said the day after the accident.

Muniz and his wife, both 40, and their six children had been surviving by scavenging through Dumpsters for food discarded by stores, and for cardboard that they could sell for recycling.

The parents and three of their children were at a Dumpster behind Albertson’s on East 17th Street 10 days ago when Isaias Gonzales, 30, prepared to pull his Frito-Lay truck away from a loading dock.

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Raquel Muniz warned him to watch out for her children, police said. But she apparently lost sight of her 4-year-old son for a moment, and he darted in front of the truck as Gonzalez pulled away, police said.

Santa Ana police officers, who started a trust fund for the boy’s family the day he was killed, said donations have reached $15,000. Officer Tony Zavala said about $4,000 was used to buy the family a used station wagon Thursday. The Munizes will be moving to a motel today while they search for a permanent place to live and while police officers try to find jobs for the parents, both of whom are illegal residents, Zavala said.


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