MODESTO -- The parents of a bicyclist who was killed in a 2010 hit-and-run collision near Turlock have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the driver, her parents and a sergeant of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
Vanessa Carrillo, 23, pleaded no contest in May to felony hit-and-run resulting in injury and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old Patrick O'Connor of Sacramento.
The civil complaint alleges that Vanessa Carrillo's parents, Elizabeth and Juan Carrillo, were negligent in response to their daughter's actions and that Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Marc Nuno obstructed the investigation because of his alleged relationship with Carrillo.
Nuno and Vanessa Carrillo were involved in a "personal, intimate relationship that commenced long before and continued after the September 1, 2010, death of Patrick O'Connor," the complaint sates.
Vanessa Carrillo was a criminal-justice student at California State University, Stanislaus, and met Nuno through the law enforcement ride-along program.
During the investigation into the collision, "Nuno provided advice and counsel to defendant Vanessa Carrillo in an attempt to evade, avoid and minimize the consequences of her criminal act," the complaint alleges.
It further states that Nuno asked a California Highway Patrol officer and his sergeant not to perform any field sobriety tests on Vanessa Carrillo or require her take any other test
Attempts by The Modesto Bee to reach the plaintiffs and the defendants Friday were not successful.
The complaint, filed by O'Conner's parents, Jim and Mary O'Connor, in late June, alleges the following:
On Sept. 1, 2010, Carrillo struck O'Connell from behind with her Toyota Corolla while driving west of Turlock. The car hit his bicycle at about 55 mph. O'Connell was thrown across its hood.
Carrillo did not stop, but purportedly called her mother and told her she had hit someone and then drove 12 miles to the family's home in Patterson without calling 911. Elizabeth Carrillo did not call 911 either at the time of her daughter's call or upon her return home.
Elizabeth and Vanessa Carrillo and an unidentified third person thendrove back to the crime scene.
When the three arrived, police were at the scene, and O'Connell had been declared dead. The Carrillos and their companion headed back toward Patterson, again without notifying police. It was back in Patterson that Vanessa Carrillo called police and told the operator she might have hit a dog.
A witness at the scene who had seen Vanessa Carrillo hit O'Connor wrote down her license plate number. The investigating CHP officer arrived 90 minutes later at Vanessa Carrillo's Patterson home. He found the white Toyota Corolla in an open garage. It had front- and rear-end damage, including a fractured windshield and lights and a dented fender and hood. There was blood and hair on the top of the roof just above the passenger door.
The complaint alleges that Nuno was at the home when the CHP officer arrived.
O'Connor's parents hired a private investigator after their son's death and traveled at least 26 times from their home in Southern California to attend Vanessa Carrillo's court hearings.
According to the suit, the private investigator learned Vanessa Carrillo had a long-standing and common practice of Tweeting on her cell phone while she was driving and had Tweeted comments about the difficulty of driving in high heels or while putting on her makeup.
James and Mary O'Connor are seeking damages against the four defendants not only for wrongful death but for negligence, survival, negligent entrustment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to intentionally inflict emotional distress.
Vanessa Carrillo received a four-year suspended sentence, of which she has spent no time in custody.
She was supposed to start an initial incarceration period of one year in jail at the end of July, but received an extension on her surrender date and is not required to turn herself in until Aug. 31.
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