SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - A Santa Rosa toddler who darted into the street and was hit by an alleged four-time DUI offender, will survive her injuries, officials said.
Police arrested 46-year-old Hector Cabrales Larios onThursday evening, after detaining him for hours of questioning.
Investigators say Cabrales Larios was at the wheel of a GMC full-size van that struck the child on Range Avenue about 2:30 p.m. and kept going.
"I just see the kid bouncing in the street," witness Kebron Asfaha told KTVU, "and I just pull over and pick her up, move her off the street."
The collision occurred next to Coddingtown Mall, in view of several businesses, office buildings, and bus stops.
Witnesses ran to the toddler who lay unconscious on the pavement.
"A lot of people came, and they called 911 and they took the kid away," said Asfaha.
Moments earlier, the little girl was with her grandmother in the parking lot of a Social Security office,
"While the grandmother was loading her car up, the toddler broke away from her and ran out into the street," said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Josh Ludtke. "I'm sure it was a very terrifying incident."
The child was rushed to a local emergency room, then airlifted to Children's Hospital in Oakland.
Police swiftly located the suspect's white van parked on a nearby street.
It matched witness descriptions and video pulled from area businesses.
In addition, Cabrales Larios had been involved in a minor hit-and-run in the neighborhood last week.
An officer at the scene Thursday remembered citing him in connection with that incident.
When police climbed the stairs to his apartment, neighbors watched and listened.
"They asked if he had an accident and he wouldn't reply," said neighbor Mary Caballero, "and he was just sitting there very calmly, and they were asking him but he wouldn't answer."
In time, the van was towed and Cabrales Larios taken to police headquarters for further questioning.
"We want to know how fast he was going, if he was impaired and if he knew he had been involved in an accident," said Sgt. Ludtke, "and those are all questions we need to answer."
By 8 p.m., Cabrales Larios was placed under arrest for felony DUI and felony hit-and-run.
"I saw the police and thought, 'My God, what happened?' " said his wife, describing officers' arrival at her door.
She told KTVU her husband came home from his restaurant job as usual, and rested as if nothing was amiss.
"I see my husband, he says 'I'm tired,'" recounted Blanca Cabrales," and I say, 'OK, you sleep, that's it'."
Cabrales said her spouse had a DUI car crash four years ago, but did not flee, and she finds his arrest now hard to accept.
"Something like that, if he did it, he'd tell her," said brother-in-law Juan Castellanos.
Police say Cabrales Larious has four prior DUI convictions, three misdemeanors and one felony, within the past six years.
In a neighborhood full of families, the collision was a reminder of how fast a child can dart away, and how dangerous that can be.
"I have two kids of my own and I take precautions because any moment they could walk away," said neighbor Esmeralda Martinez.
"Something can happen even if you're taking the best care of them, anything can happen."
The injured child is in serious condition, but expected to recover.
A gofundme for the little girl's parents' medical expenses has been set up.