Police finally dealt with a 15-time deportee this weekend when he drove drunk and smashed into a vehicle, severely injuring a child and permanently scarring an American family.
At about 10:30 pm on Saturday, Constantino Banda-Acosta was speeding in a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck on Camino de La Plaza in San Diego. He ran a stop sign at Dairy Mart Road and then slammed into the rear driver side of a Honda Accord. But, the 38-year-old man had been drinking and didn’t stop.
The Honda was full of a family on their way home from Disneyland. There was 6-year-old Lennox Lake in his car seat, his parents Benjamin and Ingrid, and grandmother Cheryl. On the tail end of the trip, they stopped at In-N-Out Burger for milkshakes and then headed home. They were only about a block away from their house when the incident occurred.
According to the fundraising page related to the incident, “A guy driving an extended cab truck came flying around the corner, wheels squealing and slammed into them. They went through a guardrail and stopped facing the opposite direction. The truck smashed into the driver’s side, more fully on the rear passenger door.”
The car seat door took the most impact. The adults only suffered minimal injuries. But the child was found not breathing and unconscious. He had blood coming out of his nose, mouth, ears, and head. His mother Ingrid had to crawl from the passenger seat to help him. His father, behind the wheel, was trapped in the wreckage and couldn’t get out for a while.
“When I came to, I asked my wife if she was OK, and she said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Is Lennox OK?’ He wasn’t responding,” Benjamin Lake told 10News. “He didn’t deserve any of this and he’s getting the impact of it all. I wish it was me.”
About half an hour after the crash, police and border patrol agents caught up with Banda-Acosta. He, as well as a passenger in the vehicle, were arrested. Both men were found to be Mexican citizens living in the country illegally. Banda-Acosta had been last deported January 18. But he had 14 other deportation cases since 2002.
The boy survived the crash but was immediately taken to the hospital. He suffered major head injuries and so far he has had to undergo two surgeries at the Rady Children’s Hospital. Some of the injuries included subnormal hematoma, skin fracture, fractured nose, eyes swollen shut, and a cut on his head that required six stitches.
He also had a bone depressed into his skull. This required doctors to cut open his entire scalp, starting from the ear, so that they could remove the bone, clean it, and sew the wound back up.
“I don’t know how you hurt someone like that and just drive away,” Benjamin Lake told 10News. “Especially a little boy.”
His grandmother, Cheryl, who was in the car, said he was a friendly and happy kid.
“The kid makes friends everywhere he goes. He’s just a delight as a grandson,” she told the San Diego Tribune.
The family, does, however, except that Lennox will fully recover. There were two other children in the family—boys aged 14 and 16. They did not attend the trip to Disneyland.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Officers were, due to privacy reasons, not able to give much of the details of the suspect’s history with the agency. They did confirm that the number of deportations reported by media outlets is correct. Public Affairs Officer Lauren Mack released the following statement regarding Banda-Acosta.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lodged a detainer against Mr. Banda seeking to take him into custody if and when he is released by local authorities to pursue additional immigration enforcement action and/or criminal prosecution,” the statement read. “Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Mr. Banda-Acosta has been repatriated to Mexico at least 15 times since 2002, most recently in January 2017.”
Banda-Accosta’s arraignment will be Wednesday and he is currently held on a $100,000 bail. He will be charged with DUI, hit and run driving, and driving without a license. In addition to his numerous deportations, Banda-Acosta was also arrested for a DUI in February of 2006 and has had his license suspended three times since 2009.
His estranged wife filed a domestic violence case against him several days after his January deportation when he showed up at her house in San Diego just days after supposedly leaving the U.S. She is trying to get a protective order against him.
“I try to be really compassionate to anybody that comes to this country because we’re all here from other places and I really want to support people that come here and work hard,” Benjamin Lake said. “But it’s hard knowing he has a past criminal record; he’s not one of those hard-working people contributing to society, and then to do this and just drive off …”
Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the medical expenses, as well as new family vehicle, because it is unlikely the driver had insurance.