Driver who struck, killed nanny sentenced: Christine Padilla gets 3 yrs probation, 48 hrs in jail

Monserrat Mendez killed in Feb. crash

SAN DIEGO - A motorist who ran a red light and struck a nanny pushing a baby across a street in a stroller, killing the woman and pinning the child under the defendant's SUV, was sentenced Friday to three years probation, 180 days on electronic surveillance and 48 hours in jail.

Christine Padilla, 35, pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter and infractions of running a red light and failure to yield at a crosswalk.

The Feb. 1 accident at Camino del Sur and Via Verrazzano in Torrey Highlands happened about 11:45 a.m. The impact threw Monserrat Mendez about 30 feet and dragged the stroller with a 14-month-old boy strapped inside across the intersection, leaving it wedged under Padilla's Toyota 4Runner.

Paramedics took the 41-year-old Mendez to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she was pronounced dead. The toddler was treated at Rady Children's Hospital for serious injuries, including a skull fracture, broken bones, a lacerated spleen and broken ribs.

An investigation revealed that Padilla was not speeding or talking on her cellphone when the accident occurred, but the defendant had given birth 33 hours earlier and was "extremely sleep deprived," said Deputy City Attorney Nicole Kukas.

Kukas said not getting any sleep for 24 hours is comparable to a person driving under the influence.

"She (Padilla) should not have been driving," the prosecutor told Judge Charles Gill.

Mendez's 16-year-old daughter said she and her mother were best friends.

"There's nothing that will bring my mother back," Amy Barragan said. "I just can't explain the pain we're going through right now."

Allison Fomon, the mother of the injured toddler, said her son Bryan suffered "unnecessarily" because of the defendant's actions.

"On February 1st, the defendant broke our family," Fomon said. "Why was she driving the day after having a baby?"

Fomon said Padilla was only concerned for herself, telling probation officers she needed to stay out of custody so she could care for her two young daughters.

Fomon said the defendant using her children as pawns was "despicable." Fomon, herself a prosecutor for the District Attorney's Office, called the Probation Department's recommendation to place Padilla on house arrest "slap in the face."

"Aren't the lives of Monse (Monserrat Mendez) and my son worth more than this?" Fomon asked in her statement to the court.

Padilla apologized to both families and said she has been "devastated" by the accident.

"If I could take your pain and make it mine, I would," Padilla told the families of the victims.

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