The driver of the SUV that killed her is only 15 years old
BELMOPAN, Wed. June 19, 2019– Gabriella Corrales, 8, a standard 2 student at the Guadalupe RC School in Belmopan, had just gotten out of classes at the end of the school day and was about to ride her bicycle home when she was knocked down and killed by an SUV at about 3:45 yesterday, Tuesday, after school.
She had gotten off her bicycle and was walking across the pedestrian ramp near the school, on the East Ring Road, near Our Lady of Guadalupe RC School, when she was hit by the SUV, driven by a 15-year-old Guatemalan boy.
A witness who saw what happened said that the little girl was dragged under the vehicle for a short distance and that the rear wheel of the vehicle rolled over her, causing massive head and body injuries that led to her death.
Corrales was picked up and rushed to the Western Regional Hospital, but she was declared dead on arrival.
A witness to the incident, to whom Corrales had just said good evening as she rode by him on her bicycle, said that he was just sitting down at the bus stop when he heard a loud bang, and saw the little girl under the Land Cruiser.
He quickly ran after the vehicle and banged on the vehicle to alert the driver that he had just knocked down the little girl, but the vehicle was still moving forward, with the child under it.
When the vehicle finally came to a stop, the driver was ordered out of it, and that was when the witness saw that he was just a boy.
When asked for his driver’s license, the boy, a Guatemalan, said that he did not have one. He was then ordered to stay on the scene and was handed over to police.
Corrales was then removed from under the vehicle, and at the Western Regional Hospital, it was learned that she had suffered massive head and body injuries, including a fractured skull and ribs, as well as internal injuries.
Corrales’ mother, Ana Ramirez, said she went to see her daughter at the hospital and saw blood coming out of her mouth and nose, and abrasions on her legs. She was told that her skull had been fractured, and she had bleeding in her brain. Also, five ribs were fractured, and her neck and her lungs had suffered substantial injuries.
Contrary to accusations that the driver tried to flee the scene of the accident, the boy’s attorney, Hurl Hamilton, refuted the allegations and said that the boy did not attempt to flee, and in fact, tried to help.
Police arrested the boy and charged him with causing death by careless conduct, manslaughter by negligence, driving without due care and attention, driving an unlicensed motor vehicle, driving a motor vehicle not covered by insurance and driving a motor vehicle while not being the holder of a driver’s license.
He was arraigned at the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court yesterday evening and no plea was taken from him. He was offered bail of $10,000 plus two sureties of the same amount. He also was ordered to surrender all travel documents and can only exit Belize with the court’s permission. The matter was adjourned to August 26.
Ana Ramirez told PLUS TV News that the boy’s father approached her and expressed feelings of sadness and guilt and offered to help with the funeral expenses and other unforeseen expenses.
Ramirez said she told him that she welcomed the help, but that it was not in her power to forgive his son. She said she wants justice for her daughter and told the boy’s father that he should be prepared to accept what consequences his son faces.
Ramirez said her daughter’s death was a crushing blow. She said she was planning a surprise trip for her on her 9th birthday, which was approaching, and she had already made arrangements for a birthday party. She said she had also planned a surprise trip for her to the United States.
The girl’s classmates, teachers and staff of the school, Our Lady of Guadeloupe Primary School in Belmopan, are mourning Gabriella’s death. Counselors of the Belize Counseling Association were inside some of the classrooms helping the children with their grief.
Outside the classrooms, at the front gate, students put up posters on the school fence in memory of Gabriella. Plus News said that on one poster, students wrote, “no more underage drivers”.
Other posters spoke of how greatly Gabriella will be missed at her primary school; another poster demanded justice for the 8-year-old student.
Authorities at the school declined an interview and requested time to mourn Gabriella’s death.
The boy’s attorney, Hurl Hamilton, said that at the arraignment, the magistrate was mindful in granting the minor bail of $10,000 dollars, or $5,000 dollars and 2 sureties. He said that the collision involved two minors, and one is dead, which is very regrettable, and he would be the first to sympathize with the parents and family of the little girl, but in Belize, the court usually offers bail when minors are involved .
He said that his client, the 15-year-old driver, is not a flight risk, because he came to live in Belize and has already enrolled in a school in Belmopan, and also, his father has substantial ties in Belize, and that he has come to live with his parents in Belize.
Reliable information to us is that the parents did not give the boy the vehicle; that he took it without their permission.
Gabriella would have celebrated her 9th birthday on June 25.