- Date of Crime: 2007-01-28
- Location of crime:
West St. Paul,MN
- Hometown: St. Paul, MN
- Sex: F
- Age: 11
- Sex: -
- Arrest Status: convicted
- Nationality: El Salvador
On January 28, 2007 eleven year old Gladys Reyes was crossing Wentworth Avenue in West St Paul, Minnesota when she was struck by a minivan driven by Mauricio Sanchez, 33, an illegal alien from El Salvador. Reyes, a student at Heritage Middle School, was dragged nearly 500 yards leaving her severely injured, including her right arm needing to be amputated..
Another driver, David Carrera of South St. Paul, Minn., attempted to force Sanchez to the side of the road. "I saw the girl go down. His front wheel was locked up on the front part of her body," Carrera said. The girl's friend banged on the van's window, but the driver kept going, he said.
When Carrera's efforts to signal Sanchez to stop failed, he said, Carrera raced ahead of the van and slowed down. Instead of stopping, Sanchez turned into a parking lot. Reyes was jarred loose from the vehicle, but was run over again as Sanchez drover further into the lot.
Carrera put his car in reverse and followed the van to the far end of the lot, where it stopped.
Sanchez then took off running. Police caught him a few blocks away and arrested him.
Sanchez was charged with criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm, leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm and driving with a suspended license. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he will ask for a three-year prison sentence. “We believe this man showed particular cruelty, and his attempt to flee after striking the young girl resulted in life-threatening and permanent debilitating injuries,” Backstrom said. “She was close to dying.” Sanchez plead guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in prison. He could be deported after completing his sentence. Glady’s parents released a statement to the court: "We all know what it feels like to have a branch stuck under our car or the sound and feel of some snow scraping against the wheel," read the statement. "Imagine then, if you can, what Mr. Sanchez was thinking and feeling when he was driving while a child ... while Gladys was under the van, having her skin burned and her flesh and bones literally torn from her body."
Reyes's right arm was amputated, and she will have to undergo plastic surgery. Her parents also said she still suffers frequent flashbacks and nightmares due to the ordeal.
"Long after Mr. Sanchez's nightmare is over and he is walking free, Gladys will still be living a mental nightmare," read the statement.
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