By Todd Quinones, Margie Shafer
LOWER MAKEFIELD Twp., Pa. (CBS) –- A Hayward man who was drunkenly driving his truck in San Francisco and struck a boy leaving a baseball game at nearby AT&T Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony DUI charges.
Andrew Vargas, 22, struck Ryan White with his white pickup truck at the intersection of Mission and New Montgomery streets the night of Aug. 4, 2011.
Ryan, who was 9 years old at the time but has since turned 10, was visiting from Philadelphia with his family and had just left a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies at the ballpark. (CBS San Francisco’s Coverage)
Vargas also struck a woman, causing minor injuries, as well as two parked cars before fleeing.
He drove to his apartment in Hayward, then tried to flee again when he saw police waiting outside, but was arrested and found to have a bottle of Jagermeister liquor in the vehicle, prosecutors said.
He initially pleaded not guilty to felony DUI causing injury and hit-and-run charges, but agreed to plead guilty Wednesday in exchange for serving one year in jail and having the hit-and-run charges dismissed.
Wednesday’s guilty plea deal likely means Vargas will be out of prison before the little boy completely heals up, a reality that is difficult for the boy’s mom to take. (see related story)
“One split second has caused seven months of a lot of pain and suffering on Ryan’s end,” Ryan’s mom Roseanne White said.
White suffered a brain injury, a broken pelvis and an internal injury, which prevents him from urinating.
“It’s been pretty hard,” Ryan White said.
Including time he already served, Vargas could be out of prison in June.
But despite all the pain and suffering, the little boy with a big heart says he forgives Vargas.
“Because before I might have been strong, but after all this I’m going to be much stronger,” Ryan White said.
But for his mom, forgiveness may take a while longer.
“I’m so conflicted because I want to forgive him, but Ryan is not better yet. So there is that part of me that says ‘when he’s better maybe I will be able to forgive him fully,’” she said.
Overall Roseanne White says she is satisfied with the prosecution of the case.
In the meantime, Ryan’s physical struggles will continue. He will likely need a forth operation, but his doctors are confident he should make a full recovery eventually.
The plea agreement also requires Vargas to pay a to-be-determined amount of restitution to the White family and the other woman who was struck, serve five years’ probation and complete a nine-month school for DUI offenders, as well as pay various fines and fees.
Vargas also will speak to youth about the dangers and consequences of drunken driving, an element of the deal that was important to the White family, Talai said.
The case will return to court March 21 to set a sentencing date.