A Hayward man accused of striking a 9-year-old boy with his truck and then fleeing the scene in San Francisco last week pleaded not guilty today to hit-and-run and drunken driving charges. Andrew Vargas, 21, allegedly struck Ryan White with his white pickup truck at the intersection of Mission and New Montgomery streets at about 10:30 p.m. last Thursday.
Ryan was visiting from Philadelphia with his family and had just left a game at AT&T Park between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies when the accident happened. The driver of the pickup was heading north on New Montgomery Street — which is a one-way southbound street — when he turned left, ran a red light and hit Ryan, who was crossing Mission Street, police and prosecutors said.
Vargas fled but was stopped in Hayward about an hour later and arrested. He was charged earlier this week by the district attorney’s office with two counts of felony drunken driving causing injury, one felony count of hit-and-run with injury, and one count of having an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle. Vargas, who had been released after posting $65,000 bail, was accompanied by several family members and friends as he made his initial appearance in San Francisco Superior Court today to be arraigned on the charges. Prosecutor Omid Talai argued for Vargas to be remanded into custody on an increased bail amount out of concern for public safety. Talai said that after hitting Ryan, a second person — a woman who suffered minor injuries — and at least two parked cars, Vargas fled and drove to his apartment in Hayward, then tried to flee again when he saw police waiting outside. When he was eventually stopped and arrested, Vargas’ blood-alcohol content was between .13 and .15, nearly twice the legal limit, Talai said.
Defense attorney Randall Knox argued to keep the bail set at $65,000, saying that Vargas has no criminal history or driving infractions on his record, and is a recent graduate of California State University, East Bay, who has a job and was planning to go to graduate school. Judge Nancy Davis sided with prosecutors, though, increasing the bail to $465,000 and remanding Vargas into custody. He was taken away from the courtroom in handcuffs and will return to court on Tuesday for a bail hearing. None of Vargas’ family members spoke to the media outside the courtroom, but Knox said his client is “distraught and ashamed of how he acted.” “This is a horrible tragedy for both families,” he said. He said Vargas “hopes Ryan makes a full recovery.”
Ryan remains at San Francisco General Hospital where his condition was upgraded earlier this week from critical to serious. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, which is slowly healing, as well as fractures to his pelvis, left leg and ankle, and a laceration to his liver, according to a statement that was released by his family. Lefty O’Doul’s, a popular restaurant near Union Square, has raised thousands of dollars to help the White family with medical costs, and representatives from both the Phillies and Giants have stopped by the hospital to visit Ryan.
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