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Mother of two boys killed in deputy-involved crash in Boyle Heights sues Sheriff's Department

Mother of two boys killed in deputy-involved crash in Boyle Heights sues Sheriff's Department
Luis Hernandez, left, and Araceli Cortez mourn the deaths of Jose Hernandez, 7, and Marcos Hernandez, 9, at a makeshift memorial on Indiana Street and Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights in November. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The mother of two boys killed in Boyle Heights last year after a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy crashed into a group of pedestrians has filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department.

The deputy driving the vehicle acted recklessly and carelessly when she accelerated through a red light without activating her sirens, the suit says, ultimately injuring seven people and killing Maria Veronica Solis Munoz’s two young sons in the Eastside neighborhood.

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On Nov. 16, 2017, Deputy Vincent Moran was training Deputy Carrie Esmeralda Robles-Placencia when a call came in about shots fired, prompting the training deputy to accelerate to the scene.

Jose Luis Hernandez, 7, and Marcos Hernandez, 9, were walking home from school with their mother near Indiana Street and Whittier Boulevard when the deputy’s vehicle “caused a collision that set off a chain of events leading to the collision of her vehicle with the bodies of Ms. Solis and her decedent children,” the lawsuit says.

After running a red light, the deputy’s SUV crashed into a Honda Accord that was stopped at the intersection, causing the Accord to strike a van carrying two women and five children, according to Officer Drake Madison, a spokesman with the Los Angeles Police Department, which investigated the crash. The sheriff’s SUV then drove over a curb, careened off the wall of a bank building and struck pedestrians on the sidewalk, including Solis and her two boys.

Months after the crash, the LAPD reported that the deputy’s lights were on but the sirens were not and that the vehicle was traveling at less than 25 mph when it crossed the intersection.

The lawsuit alleges the deputy’s vehicle was seen speeding without flashing lights or an activated siren for several blocks before reaching the intersection. Julie Valle, who was standing in the front parking lot of Stevenson Middle School shortly before the crash, said she saw a sheriff’s patrol vehicle speeding south on Indiana Street with no sirens and no lights.

According to the lawsuit, Robles-Placencia failed to follow emergency procedures and Moran failed to properly train the woman.

“Given the neighborhood, traffic and road conditions existing at the time, an accident was almost surely to happen,” the lawsuit says, adding that Moran had time to correct Robles-Placencia’s actions and minimize the risk of a crash.

The Sheriff’s Department said earlier this week that it had not received the lawsuit and could not comment. Elizabeth Miller, the lead attorney for the county, also would not comment.

Solis’ attorney, Marc Bloomenfeld, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but another attorney announced Thursday that he is filing a similar suit.

Colin Jones, an attorney for Adolfo Robles, who also was injured in the crash, blamed the collision on poor training policies.

“This tragedy that took the lives of two young boys and injured many more innocent people was the result of failed sheriff’s procedures,” said Jones, who filed a claim against the agency in May. “When entities fail to accept responsibility, we must use the tools of the law to hold them accountable.”

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