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Police: No signs of negligence

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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2006 10:00 pm

Neither the driver nor the mother of a 19-month-old boy who died after he was run over by a grocery store van Friday appear to have been negligent, police said Monday.

The investigation continues in the death of Julio Ruiz and police will ultimately send the case to the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office for review, Lt. Bill Barry said.

"We do not anticipate any arrests," he said. "But we certainly have to keep open the possibility that somebody may be cited or prosecuted as a result of this because we don't consider the case to be resolved until it goes to the DA to be reviewed."

An attorney for the store extended his condolences to the family and said the driver is still very upset.

Barry also released on Monday more details about the circumstances leading up to the accident in an alley north of the 300 block of East Elm Street. He gave this account:

Ruiz's mother had taken her five children - who ranged in age from 13 years to 19 months - to Rancho San Miguel Market, 620 S. Cherokee Lane, on the day after Thanksgiving.

The store offers free rides home to those who spend a certain amount of money in the store, and employee Adriana Caballero, 21, of Stockton, drove the family to their apartment.

She pulled up to some garbage cans near the rear entrance of an apartment complex and stopped while the family got out of the brightly colored van. Ruiz's mother pulled his stroller out of the van while some of the older children unloaded the groceries. After unloading everything, one of the older children closed the van door, then had to close it again because they didn't push hard enough the first time.

Caballero checked her mirrors and looked to make sure everyone was out of the way, then backed up slightly so she could drive around the garbage cans. She then stopped and waited for two teenage pedestrians to walk in front of her across the alley.

At some point, Ruiz had moved around to the left rear side of the van and the left rear tire rolled over him as the vehicle pulled out. Family members began yelling and banging on the van, and Caballero stopped. Paramedics pronounced the boy dead at the scene.

Barry said Caballero was not speeding and neither she nor the mother seemed to be negligent.

Employees at the grocery store referred comments to attorney Mike Hakeem, a partner in a well-known Stockton law firm.

"This was a tragic accident and Rancho San Miguel shares its sympathy and the grief of the family, and offers our prayers and support," Hakeem said.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

First published: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

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