Trial begins for driver accused in hit-and-run crash that injured boy coming home from Disneyland

Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 21, 2017

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (CNS) - Opening statements are scheduled Monday in the trial of an oft-deported Mexican citizen accused of driving drunk and fleeing the scene after blowing through a stop sign and crashing his truck into a car containing a family returning home from a day at Disneyland, seriously injuring a 6-year-old boy.

Constantino Banda Acosta, 39, is charged with hit-and-run, DUI and driving without a license. Federal immigration officials said the defendant has been deported from the United States at least 15 times over the past 15 years, most recently on January 18.

Banda was speeding west on Camino de La Plaza about 11:30 p.m. on May 6 in San Ysidro when he ran a stop sign at Dairy Mart Road and crashed his pickup truck into a Honda Accord carrying 6-year-old Lennox Lake and his parents, according to authorities.

Lennox, in a child safety seat in the back of the car, suffered a major head injury and is recovering.

The defendant fled the scene but was arrested about two miles away after Border Patrol agents spotted his damaged truck parked on a street, police said.

Banda's passenger, Jorge Adame Ariza, also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, testified under a grant of immunity during the defendant's two-day preliminary hearing in June that he and Banda had a number of beers that night before the accident.

Adame said Banda got in a fight with a man outside a Chula Vista restaurant after Banda's wife and a girlfriend accused the defendant of puncturing a tire on their car.

Adame said he drove up in Banda's truck after the fight and put Banda in the passenger seat. After they drove away, Banda took over as the driver, Adame testified.

San Diego police Officer Michael Muniz testified that Banda's blood-alcohol content measured .151 and .152 percent -- the legal limit is .08 -- during two breathalyzer tests about 2:15 a.m.

Banda faces seven years and eight months in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Christopher Chandler.

After court, Lennox's parents spoke with 10News about their son's recovery.  Ingrid Lake said "He's really vulnerable and emotionally fragile. He's been really easily upset lately; less joking. He doesn't talk about the accident without a tinge of sadness or frustration.  A lot of bad memories."

Benjamin Lake added, "He's scared to go on car rides and go places. He has nightmares."

He said the GoFundMe site  (Love for Lennox) has helped but has leveled off.