A federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of three young siblings who were injured in a Rancho Bernardo drunken driving crash caused by their mother, with the suit alleging negligence and other allegations against their incarcerated parent, San Diego County and three social workers.
The suit filed Friday in San Diego federal court alleges the county did not do enough to prevent Mayra Alejandra Gonzalez, 30, from continuing to drive drunk on multiple occasions while her children rode with her, culminating in the Nov. 12, 2018, head-on crash that injured the children, their mother and the driver of another vehicle.
Gonzalez, whose blood-alcohol level was measured at more than three times the legal limit after the crash, pleaded guilty last year to felony child abuse and DUI and was sentenced to 14 years in state prison.
County officials could not immediately be reached for comment regarding the lawsuit.
The children’s attorneys allege Gonzalez had a documented drunken driving history dating back to 2009, and that social workers from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency knew of her repeated drinking behavior, yet “ignored the potential risk to (the children) and exposed plaintiffs to a serious threat and danger that they would not have faced otherwise.”
The complaint documents four incidents in which Gonzalez drove drunk while at least one of her children was a passenger, three of which involved crashes that drew attention from law enforcement and/or HHSA.
Following a 2015 crash in which her blood-alcohol content was .26%, social workers concluded that “services and/or safeguards were necessary to address Ms. Gonzalez’s behaviors and conduct,” but did not create a case plan or provide services to Gonzalez or the children, nor was she required to participate in any alcohol/substance abuse or parenting classes, according to the lawsuit.
In 2016, she was involved in another DUI crash while pregnant and with her then 5-year-old daughter riding as a passenger, this time ending in an arrest and felony charges, for which she received five years probation. Her- blood alcohol content was .23% — the legal limit is below .08% — on that occasion.
Following that crash, plaintiffs allege social workers did not develop a formal safety plan or require her to take any classes, though they did determine that her risk of causing future abuse was “high.”
On Nov. 12, 2018, Gonzalez had a .29% blood-alcohol content when she drove on the wrong side of Camino del Norte, crashing head-on into an oncoming 2011 Jeep Liberty, causing severe injuries — including a skull fracture and a brain bleed — to her 9-month-old daughter, who was riding unrestrained, the suit alleges.
The infant was being held by one of her sisters, sending her into the vehicle’s windshield. According to the complaint, she requires a feeding tube to this day.
The defendant’s 2- and 8-year-old daughters suffered facial injuries and a fracture, respectively.
— City News Service