Authorities said 18-year-old Gissel Vazquez was charged with felony child endangerment on Aug. 15, after her 18-month-old son, Alan Villeda, was hit by a car in a Houston parking lot Wednesday, KHOU reported.
“The mother knew, or she should have known, that the little one was free in the parking lot,” said Sean Teare, of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, according to ABC News. “That charge was immediate and something we determined was necessary to ensure the safety of the 2-month-old and the other children around there.”
Footage of the incident published by KHOU shows Vazquez walking through the parking lot, holding her 2-month-old daughter. Vazquez’s 3-year-old nephew comes into view moments later, followed by her toddler son. The little boy walks to the middle of the parking lot and stands still as a white Chevrolet Impala pulls out of its parking space and drives in his direction.
Police cited by ABC said that Vazquez ran back to the fatally injured child around two minutes later, when she saw him lying on the ground.
“The distance between [Vasquez] and that little boy, the disregard with which she walked through the parking lot and allowed this little baby to chase her, those are all factors that went into our charging decision,” Teare told KHOU.
Teare said the choice of charges reflects the intent of prosecutors to enable Vasquez to continue caring for her 2-month-old daughter.
“We’re putting [Vazquez] in a position where she can raise that [second] child appropriately and so I think that was the driving force behind the charge,” Teare said, adding that “other forms of punishment beyond jail time are potentially available, including probation and deferred adjudication.”
If convicted of the charges that have been brought against her, Teare told ABC, Vazquez could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
Vazquez’s cousin, Juriyoel Hernandez, called the boy’s tragic death an accident. “Right now everybody’s telling her that it’s her fault the baby died and it wasn’t her fault. She didn’t even know that the baby was behind her,” Hernandez told KTRK.
He said that Vazquez believed the children were with her sister at the time of the incident.
Gissel Vazquez just walked into court surrounded by loved ones. The 18 yr old is being charged with endangering a child after her 1 year old baby boy was killed Wednesday. Police say Vazquez left him unattended in an apartment complex parking lot and he was hit by a car #khou11 pic.twitter.com/vnlmOLP4BI
— Janel Forte (@JanelKHOU) August 16, 2019
Vazquez’s family have called for charges to be brought against the female driver of the white Impala, ABC News reported.
The woman told police that she drove off after running over the little boy because she was not aware that she had just struck him with her car. Police cited in the report noted the driver did not test positive for drugs or alcohol.
While no charges have been brought against the driver, authorities said she may face charges pending the outcome of the investigation.
Vazquez has been released on bond and will be allowed supervised visits with her 2-month-old daughter.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise money for the deceased toddler’s funeral.