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Police: Repeat DUI driver arrested after hit-and-run crash that seriously injures toddler

A toddler was seriously injured after being struck by a suspected drunken driver who then fled the crash near Coddingtown Mall on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

The crash involving a full-size van was reported about 2:40 p.m. on Range Avenue. The child, about 2 years old, was taken to a local hospital with major injuries, but she was expected to survive, Santa Rosa police said in a statement.

An officer recognized the vehicle description from a hit-and-run investigation a week ago, allowing them to eventually track down the white 1995 GMC van at an apartment complex about two blocks south, police said.

The driver, Hector Cabrales Larios, 47, was arrested, suspected of felony DUI and felony hit-and-run.

Larios had three prior misdemeanor DUI convictions and one felony DUI conviction within the past six years, police said.

The street was closed between Guerneville Road and Jennings Avenue for nearly two hours as officers investigated the crash.

As officers examined the site, a crushed water bottle and a child’s pink ballerina shoe covered in glitter sat in the road, circled by pink spray paint marking them as evidence.

The girl and her grandmother had left the Social Security office across from the mall and were getting into the grandmother’s black Hyundai Tucson when the girl ran into the street, said Eileen Gorman, an eyewitness. Gorman said she had played with the girl for about a half-hour in the Social Security office before the crash.

“I heard the grandmother say ‘Where is my granddaughter?’ I got alarmed,” Gorman said. “She was already in the road … I heard the impact.”

She said the grandmother was getting into the car when the girl ran off, too fast for the woman to react. Gorman had seen the girl in the street and tried to reach her, but only made it about two steps before the girl was hit, she said.

“It was so fast,” Gorman said. “Don’t make it sound like the grandmother wasn’t diligent. She was.”

Bruce Pearson said he heard the crash and came running out of the Social Security office.

“I saw the kid lying there,” he said. “The little girl was bleeding from her forehead, her eyes wide open. She looked in shock.”

The girl’s name will not be released because of her age, said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Josh Ludtke.

Blanca Cabrales said Larios, her husband, had come home from work shortly before police arrived at their door.

She said she believed her husband had not been involved in the crash.

“His car doesn’t have dents, nothing,” she said. “We’re a good family, we never have problems with anyone.”

Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @iambeale.

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