Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A Buena Park man pleaded guilty to running down an 44-year-old mother of eight with his pickup truck in Anaheim and fleeing the scene.

Junior Rigoberto Lopez, 30, admitted a count of hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury, according to Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell.

Lopez’s plea on Thursday was an open one, meaning there’s no guarantee of what his punishment will be, but an Orange County Superior Court judge told Lopez it will not exceed three years, Cornwell added.

The sentence of Lopez, which is set for June 11, will depend on a report from probation officials and statements from family members on how the death affected them.

Lopez struck Daniela Palacios with his truck about 9:10 p.m. on Nov. 1. Anaheim Police said the driver stopped briefly after hitting Palacios, but then drove off.

Family members said Palacios was on her way to visit a friend and may have stopped to feed homeless people before she was hit while riding her bicycle near La Palma and Magnolia avenues. She died at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange about 1 a.m. on Nov. 2.

Police said when they arrested Lopez, they also seized his vehicle — a white 2013 Ford F-150 extra cab pickup. Lopez was accused of driving to Mexico to get the truck repaired there, and he returned to Mexico on Dec. 11 to retrieve the vehicle, prosecutors said.

Palacios’ relatives said she had eight children between the ages of 9 and 28, and 11 grandchildren. They said she had once been temporarily homeless and was known to stop to feed the homeless.

—City News Service

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