CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A California boy is recovering from head injuries after the car his family was driving in was hit by an alleged drunk driver who has been deported over a dozen times, officials say.
Lennox, 6, was with his mom and dad coming home from Disneyland before the accident Saturday evening. His parents had just bought him a milkshake at the burger joint In-N-Out in San Ysidro and were a block from their home when a vehicle collided with their car.
According to his uncle on a GoFundMe page, Lennox was in the rear passenger seat when a truck "came flying around the corner, wheels squealing and slammed into them. They went through a guardrail and stopped facing the opposite direction."
Border Patrol agents came upon the crash at the intersection of Camino De La Plaza and Dairy Mart Road around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, found multiple victims and called local authorities.
An investigation determined the hit-and-run suspect was driving a Chevrolet pickup truck. Border Patrol agents found a damaged vehicle matching the description at Vista Lane and Corte Amalia in San Ysidro about a half hour later.
San Diego police arrested the driver, who was suspected of driving under the influence and leaving a crash scene with injured people. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told KSWB, the driver, identified as Constantino Banda-Acosta, was a Mexican national who has been deported 15 times over the course of 15 years.
In a statement provided to CNN, ICE confirmed that Banda-Acosta "has been repatriated to Mexico at least 15 times since 2002, most recently in January 2017."
"But those are just numbers to a man who only wants to see his son healthy again. It’s tough to know somewhere that the system is breaking down but I’m really just trying to focus on Lennox coming home and making him happy. [I hope] justice does their job and things work out the right way," said Lake.
Lennox suffered serious head injuries and underwent surgery, according to his uncle. The boy's parents suffered minor injuries.
"Right now, he has a lot of swelling and can’t open either of his eyes so he’s scared about why he can’t see," his father Ben Lake told KSWB while holding back tears. "I just really care about bringing him home and making sure he’s happy again."
Agents arrested the passenger in the pickup and transported him to a Border Patrol station and processed him for removal proceedings, according to Border Patrol officials.
Banda pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges, including DUI, hit-and-run crash resulting in injuries and driving without a license. If he's found guilty, Banda faces seven years in prison. His bail was set at $230,000.
Lennox's uncle set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical bills and a replacement car for the family.