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Salinas hit-and-run victim dies, suspect now faces vehicular manslaughter charges

Suspect bail set to $200K

Court video of Salinas hit and run...

SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE: The woman who was struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a North Salinas street with her 6-year-old daughter has died. 

According to Salinas Police, 41-year-old Bernardina Leon was taken off life support and died Sunday. She was hit while walking in the crosswalk on North Main and Lamar Street on October 24. Her daughter had been released from the hospital weeks ago. Leon suffered severe head trauma after the accident and never recovered. 

The suspect, 34-year-old Jorge Osio Ramirez, allegedly hit Leon and her daughter with his car and fled. Ramirez later turned himself in to police. He pleaded not guilty to hit-and-run charges.

Police said since Leon's death Ramirez now faces vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. 

Ramirez bail has been set to $200,000 and his next court hearing will be November 14 at 1:30 p.m. 

Leon is the 8th traffic fatality of the year and the 5th pedestrian fatality. 

 

PREVIOUS STORY: 11/1/2017 12:16 p.m. The woman who was struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a North Salinas street with her 6-year-old daughter has been declared brain dead. 

If Bernardina Leon is taken off of life support and dies, authorities said it will change how police and prosecutors try the case against the man accused of hitting them. 

Leon, 41, and 6-year-old Luz Clarita were victims of a hit-and-run on October 24. Authorities say the two were walking in a crosswalk on North Main and Lamar Street, when 34-year-old Jorge Osio Ramirez allegedly hit them with his car then fled.

Since the incident, Luz Clarita was released from the hospital, however her mother suffered severe trauma and is in a medically induced coma. 

All this time, her husband Silvestre Flores, had been praying for a miracle, but that changed Monday, when doctors told him his wife was brain dead. 

"When they called me over the phone yesterday, I thought I was going to receive good news because I know my wife was fighting,” Flores said. “But they told me that unfortunately they couldn't do anything more for her because her brain died."

KION met with Flores and he said he's heartbroken, he wants to focus on their 6-year-old daughter who suffered cuts and scrapes when her mother pushed her out of the way of the car. The little girl, Luz Clarita is unaware of the dire situation. 

"I know it's hard and I know she's gonna cry and I'm gonna see her suffer but I need to overcome this," said Flores. 

The suspect in the case, 34-year-old Jorge Ramirez, later turned himself into police. He has pleaded not guilty to hit and run causing injury and driving on a suspended license. His bail was originally set at $10,000. 

Due to Leon's turn for the worse authorities requested the judge increase bail to $200,000 and that request has been approved.

Authorities said the charges could be amended to vehicular manslaughter if there's a death. The Monterey County District Attorney's Office said if those charges are changed, Ramirez will be back in court for another bail hearing.  

"The maximum punishment is going to be 11 years,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon said. “Without the death, the maximum would have been about three years."

Silvestre said despite his heartache, he wants the people of Salinas to know he appreciates their support. 

"I never thought that Salinas would show me this support,” Flores said. “And the truth, I'm very grateful with them because here, I have no family. It's just me and my daughter, and well, my wife."

UPDATE: 10/30/2017 2:03 p.m. The man who hit a Salinas mother and daughter with his car and left them for dead has pleaded not guilty.

On Monday, 34-year-old Jorge Osio Ramirez was charged with felony hit-and-run for hitting 41-year-old Bernardina Leon and her 6-year-old daughter while they were walking in a crosswalk on North Main and Lamar Street.

The incident occurred on October 24 around 7:30 p.m. The mother suffered severe head trauma and remains in the hospital in critical condition. Leon's daughter has since been released from the hospital. 

Ramirez has asked for a public defender. The preliminary court date has been scheduled for November 9. His bail is set for $10,000. 

 

PREVIOUS STORY:10/26/2017 3:40 p.m.

Salinas Police have arrested the driver in connection to Tuesday's hit-and-run incident on North Main and Lamar Street.

According to police, 34-year-old Jorge Osio Ramirez was the man who hit 41-year-old Bernardina and her 6-year-old daughter while they were walking in a crosswalk. On Wednesday a citizen pointed out a car matching the description in front of the trailer park at 255 East Bolivar Street, only a few blocks from the hit-and-run scene. 

Officers towed the car for evidence. Family members were advised that police were looking for Ramirez. Around 3 p.m. Thursday Ramirez went to the police department and during an interview he admitted to being the driver who fled the scene. 

Ramirez was found to be driving on a suspended license for a prior conviction of DUI. Ramirez had multiple prior DUI arrests. He will be booked into Monterey County Jail for hit-and-run causing injury, driving on a suspended license, and driving on a suspended license causing injury. 

According to police, the mother remains in extremely critical condition at Natividad Medical Center. Her daughter has been released home. 

PREVIOUS STORY: 10/26/2017 2:29 p.m. : Salinas Police have identified the woman who was seriously injured after being struck by a car with her 6-year-old daughter. 

According to police, 41-year-old Bernardina Leon of Salinas remains in extremely critical condition at Natividad Medical Center. Her daughter has been released home. 

UPDATE 10/25/2017 6 p.m.:

A woman and her child were hit by a car in a North Salinas crosswalk and left for dead Tuesday night.

Salinas police said officers were dispatched to North Main Street and Lamar Street around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. They said a 41-year-old woman and her 6-year-old daughter were in a marked crosswalk when a vehicle struck them, then speed off.

"From what the scene is indicating to us, the pedestrians were struck and thrown a significant distance, between 80 and 90 feet from where they were hit to where they actually landed and were found by people that responded to the scene, both witnesses and concerned individuals, as well as the officers and emergency medical services," said Sgt. Dana Cornelison.

One of those concerned individuals was Jose Alvarenga, who jumped into action. 

"The mom looked really bad,” Alvarenga said. “Cause I was giving her CPR and she would only move a little bit. And the little girl, she would move a little bit then I gave her CPR and yeah, I was talking to her."

He said the little girl was in a daze, she wasn’t crying but she kept asking one question. 

"I felt bad for the little girl because she kept asking to see her mother and her father," Alvarenga said.

The car that hit them is described as a black Nissan passenger car with likely windshield damage.

The woman was taken to Natividad Medical Center with critical injuries described as “extreme.” At last check, she had just gotten out of surgery. The six year old girl was flown to Valley Medical Center in San Jose with major injuries, but police say she will survive.

It was last seen heading down on North Main Street, then turned west onto Boronda Road towards U.S. Highway 101. 

Salinas police are working to gather video evidence.

"The officers tasked with investigating this will be following up with various businesses up and down North Main Street to see by some chance if a video camera, an ATM camera, something captured the vehicle leaving the scene," Cornelison said.

This same intersection recently got an update. Earlier this year, the City of Salinas Public Works Department installed flashing beacons at North Main and Lamar Street. People in the neighborhood said it hasn’t changed anything.

"If you press a button right there, you have to wait till the car stops because they don't stop,” Stephanie Lopez said. “They can barely see the flashing light on the sign, so they keep going and they never stop."

Despite being well lit, clearly painted and now having these flashing beacons, Salinas Police said it will see what more they can do.

"We're going to do everything we can to get those injury crashes down to zero, but you know, the drivers need to take some responsibility,” Sgt. Gerry Ross said. “This driver was going too fast and obviously not paying attention. These pedestrians were doing everything right, they were crossing in the crosswalk, and they’re crossing in a lighted crosswalk. They're not running. As far as we know they're not on a cell phone, they're doing everything right."

But they remind pedestrians, just because they might be doing everything right doesn’t mean a car will stop. 

ORIGINAL POST:

Salinas police are investigating a hit-and-run that happened on East Lamar and North Main Street Tuesday night.

Police said a 41-year-old woman and her six-year-old daughter were in the cross-walk when they were hit. Salinas Police said the two were struck by a car and launched nearly 80 feet.The little girl was airlifted to a Bay Area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police said the mother is in "extreme critical condition" and is in surgery.

The suspect vehicle is described as a black Nissan. The vehicle was last seen heading westbound towards Boronda on Highway 101.

Police believe Nissan had windshield damage.

Sgt. Cornelison said, " if someone does see a vehicle that they believe may have been involved, call law enforcement, don't approach the vehicle of the driver. Just let us come out and evaluate it. Consider your own safety, someone who would leave the scene of an accident like this where two people are seriously injured you never know what they are capable of."

KION's Mariana Hicks has the latest details at 5 and 6 p.m. 


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