SAN DIEGO - The father who abandoned his 4-year-old son after a crash on Interstate 5 told 10News he thought his son was dead, so he panicked and ran.
Angelo Fabiani Arroyo, 40, was arrested by the California Highway Patrol Tuesday and charged with hit-and-run with injury, child cruelty and causing great bodily injury to a child under 5 years of age.
He spoke to 10News reporter Allison Ash in a visitation area inside San Diego's Central Jail, telling her the crash happened after he took a turn too fast while towing a trailer carrying his jet ski. He claims he had not been drinking.
He said he may have hit the gas instead of the brake, sending the pickup and trailer down an embankment, with 4-year-old Valentino still strapped in his child safety seat.
"When I looked up, I saw blood," said Fabiani as he recalled the moments after the crash. "I thought, 'I got to go get him.'"
Fabiani said he broke out a rear window and reached in to free Valentino from his car seat. Valentino was not responsive.
"I leaned through and pulled the seat belt," he said.
The next thing he knew, his son was falling 10 feet down onto the pavement. He landed on his head.
"Just seeing him laying there like that. I froze," said Fabiani with tears in his eyes.
The construction worker, who is covered in tattoos, broke down in tears when talking about his son.
"I thought he was dead," he said. "I thought I killed him."
So, he ran.
"I just started walking," he told 10News "I didn't want to hear the ambulances. I didn't want to see the people."
Fabiani claims his feet are covered in blisters after he walked all the way to Imperial Beach, where he lives, but he did not go home.
"I bought liquor and consulted a bum on how to live on the street," he said, fearing that he would never again be able to look family members in the eye.
He added, "In the blink of a moment, my whole life changed."
When asked why he did not turn himself in to police, he shrugged and said he did not know.
10News learned that Fabiani has three prior DUIs and spent a year in prison for the last one. He recently got his license back and had been at a cookout all day along the water before the crash.
When asked if he was drunk, he told 10News reporter Dan Haggerty, "Everybody keeps asking me that. No. Earlier, we were jet skiing. I was with my friend and his kids. We were barbecuing. There was drinking but I wasn't drinking nothing."
Fabiani said he is having trouble getting information about his son's condition but that a social worker told him Valentino is in critical.
He said he wishes he could turn back time, but he cannot.
Fabiani is scheduled for arraignment Thursday on three felony counts, including cruelty to a child and hit-and-run.