Driver voices regret for fatal accident

Bail reduced for woman in death of boy dragged under truck

December 05, 2006|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,Sun Reporter

Lazara Arellano de Hogue pressed her hands to her lips in a prayerful gesture. She wept softly and appeared distraught as she told a Baltimore County judge that she felt "really bad" and that she hadn't eaten or slept since being arrested in a hit-and-run accident that left a toddler dead and his grandmother seriously injured.

"I'm thinking about my kids," the 40-year-old woman said through a Spanish-speaking interpreter at her bail review hearing yesterday in District Court in Towson - her first public comments since Friday's fatal accident. "I'm a father and a mother to my kids. I will come to court, whenever you tell me to. Don't be afraid. I'm not going anywhere."

District Judge Philip N. Tirabassi said he was concerned that Arellano de Hogue might flee, if not to her native Mexico, then to Florida, where she lived for 14 years before moving to Maryland four years ago. He set the woman's bail at $250,000 - down from the $2 million bail set by a court commissioner after Arellano de Hogue was arrested Friday - and ordered that she remain on home detention until her trial, if released.

The judge also directed her to surrender her passport.

Arellano de Hogue remained at the county detention center last night. She is charged in the hit-and-run dragging death of a 3-year-old boy whose stroller was struck about 3:30 p.m. Friday and caught under the pickup truck the woman was driving.

Court documents made public yesterday contained new details of the incident, including that the boy appeared to be conscious when police found him more than eight-tenths of a mile from where he was struck.

They also show that Arellano de Hogue told police that her brakes did not work because the stroller was stuck beneath the vehicle - and that when she was able to stop, she pulled the empty stroller from beneath the vehicle and drove home.

She told police that she did not call 911 about the incident "because of her `nervous state' and it gave her amnesia," according to a statement of probable cause prepared for the court by police.

The most serious charge filed against Arellano de Hogue - failing to stop her vehicle at the scene of a fatal accident - carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, county prosecutor Allan J. Webster said. She is also charged with failing to return and remain at the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury, failure of a driver involved in an accident to render reasonable assistance to an injured person and failure of a driver involved in an accident to furnish the required identification and license.

Webster, an assistant state's attorney, told the judge that vehicular manslaughter charges might be filed later.

The pickup truck driven by Arellano de Hogue struck 55-year-old Marjorie Thomas as she pushed her grandson, Elijah Cozart, in a stroller across Goucher Boulevard, just south of Colbury Road, near the boy's home, police said.

With the stroller caught in the undercarriage of the truck, the boy was dragged 0.85 miles before the driver briefly swerved into a yard on Regester Avenue and the child's body was dislodged, according to charging documents.

A police officer who followed drag and scuff marks from the scene of the crash to an address in the 1500 block of Regester Avenue found the child, gasping for air, near deep ruts in the grassy yard, according to charging documents. The boy's lower body had been mangled and his clothes were almost gone, police wrote in the court documents.

The blue stroller, located nearby in the driveway, was "twisted, in pieces and completely destroyed," according to the charging documents.

Elijah was pronounced dead about 4:15 p.m. Friday at Good Samaritan Hospital.

His grandmother remained in serious condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she had been flown with life-threatening injuries to her head and left side after the accident.

After the accident, police went to Arellano de Hogue's home in the Drumcastle Apartments, off York Road just north of the city-county line, where she acknowledged that she had been driving the truck, according to court records.

"She then stated it was not her fault, she had a green light. When asked why she did not stay at the scene, she stated that she had to be with her children," the court records state.

Later, she told police that a woman with a stroller had darted in front of her truck, and that she swerved and tried to brake.

Another woman at her home, who was a passenger in the truck, told police that she and Arellano de Hogue were returning from a Wal-Mart at the time of the incident. That woman, who according to the court document gave differing accounts of what happened after the accident, was not charged.

Arellano de Hogue is a permanent resident of the United States and has taken - but not yet received the results of - a citizenship test, her lawyer, Michael A. Zwaig, said in court.

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