Photo by Alexander Nguyen
Photo by Alexander Nguyen

A Buena Park man was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for running down a 44-year-old mother of seven with his pickup truck in Anaheim and fleeing the scene.

Junior Rigoberto Lopez, 31, pleaded guilty April 16 to hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury for hitting Daniella Palacios with his truck last Nov. 1 about 9:10 p.m. near La Palma and Magnolia avenues and driving off after briefly stopping.

Palacios’ family said she was on her way to help feed the homeless, a cause she frequently supported. She died at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange about 1 a.m. on Nov. 2.

Prosecutors said that after the collision, Lopez drove to Mexico to get his white 2013 Ford F-150 extra-cab pickup repaired, and returned on Dec. 11 to retrieve the vehicle.

At a June 11 hearing, family members of the victim — she had seven children between the ages of 9 and 28, and 11 grandchildren — told Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner how her death affected them.

Palacios’ mother said her daughter, who was living with her at the time, had just left the house and was run down while riding her bicycle.

“She left my house — not even five minutes — and my granddaughter and I saw her on the ground,” Julie Lopez said before ticking off the multiple injuries the victim suffered.

“I’m not going to say I hate (the defendant)… but he needs to pay the consequences,” she said.

Elena Garcia wrote a statement, that was read aloud in court, about losing her mother.

“My whole world has been completely shattered …,” she wrote. “I have done and made so much of my life since she’s been gone and I wish she could have been here to experience these accomplishments with me.”

Garcia said she understood the collision was an accident, but “can’t seem to understand how a person can drive away without any sense of remorse. I constantly ask myself why a person would do such a horrible thing.”

— City News Service 

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