Family of nanny struck, killed by SUV files suit against driver, her husband

Baby in stroller survives crash

SAN DIEGO - The family of a nanny struck and killed by an SUV as she pushed a baby in a stroller across a street filed a lawsuit Friday against the driver and her husband.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the family of Monserrat Mendez, alleges the driver, Christine Padilla, was impaired by sleep deprivation because she had just had a baby. The suit says Padilla's husband allowed her to drive the car despite her alleged condition.

"We had to question, why would he let his wife … why would he let her drive the car after she just delivered a baby?" said James Frantz, the attorney representing Mendez's family.

On Feb. 1, at about 11:45 a.m., San Diego police said the 41-year-old Mendez was pushing a 13-month-old baby boy in a stroller when a Toyota 4Runner driven by Padilla struck both of them at the intersection of Camino del Sur and Via Verrazzano in the Torrey Highlands area.

Investigators said the impact threw Mendez 30 feet and dragged the stroller with the boy strapped inside across the intersection, leaving it wedged under Padilla's SUV.

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, police said.

Frantz said, "Why she didn't see the light in time, and why she was going as fast as she was?"

An investigation revealed that Padilla, 35, was not speeding or talking on her cellphone when the crash occurred, according to police.

"You know, it's in the middle of the day, there's no visibility issues. It's all been looked at. So there's really no excuse for this occurring at all," said Nantz.

Frantz said he wants to conduct a reenactment of the incident due to what he believes are some discrepancies in the police report.

On March 15, Padilla pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failure to stop at a red light.

She faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

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