The family of a Houston mother who is facing child endangerment charges after a car driven by someone else struck and killed her toddler is calling for the driver to be charged.
Gissel Vazquez, 18, could be seen in surveillance footage on Wednesday walking far ahead of her 18-month-old son Alan Villeda and his 3-year-old cousin in an apartment complex parking lot, according to a police statement.
As Vazquez went into an apartment, leaving her son unsupervised, a white vehicle in the parking lot backed up and then drove forward, hitting the child in the process, the statement said, adding that Vazquez ran to her son when she saw him lying on the ground.
Vazquez was charged with felony child endangerment, Sean Teare, of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told ABC News.
“The mother knew, or she should have known, that the little one was free in the parking lot,” he said. “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.”
That 2-month-old was Vazquez’s daughter, according to the statement.
“This was an accident,” Vazquez’s cousin Juriyoel Hernandez told ABC Houston station KTRK. “Right now, they’re telling her it’s her fault, and it’s not her fault. They’re blaming her and they don’t even know her story. For sure, she thought her sister was taking care of her kid.”
Vazquez’s family is now calling for the driver of the white car to be charged as well.
Prosecutors say the investigation has only just begun and that while the driver isn’t being charged right now, they are not ruling out future charges depending on the outcome of the investigation.
The driver told investigators that she did not realize that she hit the boy, and that’s why she left the scene. When she was told what had happened, she returned to the scene, where she passed a drug and alcohol test.
Vazquez was released on bond and can only see her 2-month-old daughter under the condition that it’s supervised. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, Teare said.