Man accused of driving into kids faces manslaughter charge

By Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press
Friday January 18, 2002

OAKLAND — The man accused of driving into five children and a mother in a crosswalk as they headed to school faces several felony counts, including vehicular manslaughter, Oakland police said Thursday. 

Osvaldo Urzua, 41, of Oakland, was arrested Wednesday evening at about the same time a 5-year-old girl died from injuries sustained in the accident a day earlier. 

“He admitted to being in the scene and in the car,” said Oakland Police Chief Richard Word. 

Among the charges police were considering were one count of vehicular manslaughter, six counts of felony hit and run, and several lesser charges. Police said it appeared neither alcohol nor drugs was a factor. 

Investigator Dennis Franckowski said Urzua did not have a drivers license, and a background check turned up no history of prior arrest. Officials were waiting for results of a fingerprint check on Thursday. 

Police believe Urzua came to the United States from Mexico within the last five years, but they were unsure whether he was in the country legally. 

Franckowski said Urzua had shown little interest in the conditions of the victims. 

“He was concerned about the incident, but it was more about what was going to happen to him,” Franckowski said. 

The hit and run happened Tuesday morning when a green 1967 Ford Mustang sped through an Oakland intersection, hitting the six as they crossed the street. 

Witnesses said the driver was speeding, and did not attempt to slow down. The car was abandoned nearby, and the driver fled on foot. 

Ana Cerna was taken off life support at Children’s Hospital in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon, and died soon after. Juan Espinosa, 7; Anylene Espinosa, 10, and Juan Cerna, 11, were listed Thursday in fair condition with broken bones and other injuries, according to hospital spokeswoman Vanya Rainova. One-year-old Kathy Espinosa was released Wednesday. 

The mother of three of the children, Maribel Espinosa, had a broken ankle and knee. 

Urzua, who allegedly borrowed the Mustang without permission from the home where he was staying, said the car had mechanical problems, according to Franckowski. Police were checking the car for defects.