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Driver charged in Brighton crash that killed 9-year-old girl, babysitter

Berkeley Brean
Updated: February 10, 2020 05:12 PM
Created: February 10, 2020 05:09 PM

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — The driver of the car that killed a child and her babysitter the day before Thanksgiving was charged with criminally negligent homicide and assault. 

Ninoshka Vasquez-Ruiz, 20, turned herself in on Friday. 

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She will be arraigned in Brighton Town Court Wednesday. 

Based on the New York State Police crash report, Brighton Police say Vasquez-Ruiz’s car went off Edgewood Avenue, hit a utility pole, sheared it in half, continued another 50 feet, sometimes airborne, and hit the children and their babysitter on the sidewalk.

 

The chief says if the car was going the speed limit, the pole would have stopped the car. 

Chief David Catholdi, Brighton Police: “I want to make it very clear. This was not an accident. There was a chain of events put in place by the driver of that vehicle where she made decisions.”

Chief David Catholdi says he charged Vasquez-Ruiz with criminally negligent homicide for two reasons:

She was driving 63 miles an hour. 

And she only had a learner’s permit. 

Catholdi: “If there would have been a licensed driver in that vehicle with her, they could have said 'maybe you're too tired to drive. Let me drive. You're going to too fast. Slow down.' Or grab the wheel away from her. She made that decision.”

9-year-old Mila Ruangsuwana and her babysitter Elmira Hall were hit and killed. 

Mila’s 2-year-old brother Evan survived but has serious injuries according to his mother. (Read below for more details on Evan’s condition)

At the time of the crash, Vasquez-Ruiz had her one-month-old baby in the backseat. 

In court paperwork, she told an investigator that she gets up five to six times a night to feed her baby. 

At the time of the crash, she told police she was heading home from a doctor’s appointment because her child was sick. 

The investigator’s report says, “She said she remembered having two hands on the steering wheel and feeling dizzy. She said the road wasn’t ‘clear’ and it was ‘moving.’ She said she felt ‘not strong.’ She went on to say that she closed her eyes to see if things would get better. The next thing she knew the accident had happened.”

Three days later, the investigator talked to Vasquez-Ruiz again. 

“I asked Vasquez if she fell asleep prior to the accident and she said yes. She said she still doesn’t remember much. She did recall seeing the girl lying in the yard after the crash,” the investigator wrote.

The investigator went on to write, “In her first story, she made it seem like she was having a dizzy spell prior to the crash. Now she says she fell asleep.”

A week after the crash, I reported that Vasquez-Ruiz fell asleep at the wheel.

Brean: “Did she fall asleep driving the car?”

Catholdi: “She made some indications and she made some verbal statements that she did fall asleep. But that’s yet to be proven. Only she knows if she fell asleep.”

Brean: “What do you think happened?”

Catholdi: “Just what I told you, she was operating on a permit only which she should not have been doing. And she was driving more than double the posted speed limit in a residential neighborhood.”

I reached out to URMC to see if the Ruangsuwana family wished to comment on the arrest.

They declined. However, Mila and Evan’s mother, Irina Statnikova, sent the following text message about Evan’s condition:

“Evan received excellent care at KKI and has improved in many regards. He will return home in two weeks. Despite his improvement, he is still unable to walk, use his left arm, and relies on NG tube for nutrition. His ability to understand, communicate, and interact has also been compromised. No one can predict where exactly he lands in his recovery, however, due to the severity and irreversibility of his brain injury he is expected to have physical and intellectual disabilities. He will continue long term therapy when he returns home.”


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