Driver in crash that killed nanny, injured baby in stroller pleads not guilty

Monserrat Mendez killed in Feb. 1 crash

SAN DIEGO - A driver who struck and killed a nanny pushing a baby in a stroller in Torrey Highlands last month pleaded not guilty Friday to misdemeanor charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failure to stop at a red light.

Christine Padilla, 35, is charged in connection with the death of 41-year-old Monserrat Mendez.

Padilla was scheduled to be arraigned Monday, but according to court officials, her attorney "counter-arraigned" the defendant a day early. She faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

The accident at Camino del Sur and Via Verrazzano happened Feb. 1 about 11:45 a.m., according to San Diego police.

Investigators said the impact threw Mendez 30 feet and dragged the stroller with a 13-month-old boy strapped inside across the intersection, leaving it wedged under Padilla's Toyota 4Runner.

Medics took Mendez to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she was pronounced dead. The toddler was taken to Rady Children's Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, including scrapes and bruises, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Andra Brown said.

An investigation revealed that Padilla was not speeding or talking on her cellphone when the accident occurred, although she had just had a baby the day before, according to police.

A readiness conference for Padilla is scheduled April 24.

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