UPDATE: Deceased children identified, mother charged from SR 78 tragedy


Last updated 6/19/2023 at 2:56pm

Village News/Gilberto Gonzales screenshot

Sandra Ortiz, a 33-year-old mother from Vista, was arrested on five felony charges relating to driving under the influence, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and child endangerment after her two children died on SR 78 Sunday night, June 18, 2023.

UPDATED 06-19-23:

Alan Gerardo, age 10, and his sister Amy Monserrat, age 16, were killed after exiting their car on SR 78, apparently to help retrieve a suitcase and/or its contents, which had fallen off of their SUV. On Sunday night at about 6:10 pm the CHP received reports of a vehicle vs. pedestrian on the eastbound 78, east of Mar Vista. CHP requested Vista Sheriff for assistance. On arrival, first responders located two children who had been struck and killed. Both children were pronounced deceased on the scene.

CHP officers subsequently arrested the driver of the GMC Yukon, 33-year-old Sandra Ortiz (from Vista), for felony charges related to this incident, including driving under the influence (DUI), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and child endangerment.

A 41-year-old (female) from Vista was driving a white Nissan Sentra in the #3 eastbound lane of SR-78. For reasons that are still under investigation, a green GMC Yukon pulled to the right shoulder of SR-78 eastbound, east of Mar Vista and two juveniles (a 10-year-old male and a 16-year-old female) from Vista were on foot in the eastbound traffic lanes of SR-78. A traffic collision occurred between the front of the Nissan Sentra and the two pedestrians.    

The California Highway Patrol and the Vista Fire/Paramedics responded to the scene. Unfortunately, the two juveniles were pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the Nissan remained on scene and did not report any injuries. The roadway was affected from the time of the collision until approximately 9:30 p.m., as the scene was investigated. Alcohol and/or drugs were suspected to be a factor contributing to the cause of this traffic collision.

As of Monday morning, June 19, Sandra Ortiz is booked in the Las Colinas Detention Facility with five felonies. Her charges are Two counts of Gross Vehicle Manslaughter while intoxicated, and child endangerment, and two counts of DUI: Alcohol/drugs, resulting in bodily injury

Below is the official statement from the family of the deceased children.

"Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the tragic loss of our beloved children, Amy and Alan. Today, we would like to honor the memory of Amy and Alan.

"Amy, a sweet and kind soul, had an unwavering passion for baking and dreamed of becoming a chef. Her love extended beyond her immediate family as she selflessly prepared meals for her siblings. Amy's warmth, generosity, and the love she shared touched the lives of all who knew her. She will be deeply missed, leaving behind cherished

memories that will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

"Alan, with his aspiring dreams of becoming an architect, possessed a unique talent for embroidery work. His dedication and love for his hobby were evident as he

envisioned a future where he could retire and provide a home for his beloved Grandma. Alan's selflessness and desire to care for his family were truly admirable, a testament to his kind and compassionate nature.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the overwhelming outpouring of love, support, and condolences we have received from the community. Your words,

gestures, and presence have provided us with comfort during this unimaginably difficult time. Please know that your kindness has touched our hearts and provided solace in our darkest hours.

During this period of grief and mourning, we kindly ask for privacy as we navigate through the pain of losing Amy and Alan. We appreciate your understanding and respect

for our need to grieve and heal as a family. Your continued support and prayers are deeply valued as we try to find strength and honor the memories of our beloved children. "

There has been a GoFundMe set up for the family to handle the funeral expenses. https://gofund.me/1841187b

The investigation is ongoing, and the CHP is asking anyone who has information or may have witnessed this incident to contact the Oceanside Area CHP office at 760-643-3400.


Two children killed on SR 78 in Vista, mother arrested

Two children died after hopping out of a car that was pulled over today, June 18, on state Route 78 in Vista. At about 6:10 pm CHP received reports of a vehicle vs. pedestrian on the eastbound 78, east of Mar Vista. CHP requested Vista Sheriff for assistance. On arrival, first responders located two children who had been struck and killed. Both children were pronounced deceased on the scene.

The ages and genders of the minors were not immediately released, however, a person on the scene believed the children may have been about 10 and 12 years old. The children exited the car after their mother pulled off to the side of the roadway. According to the Vista Fire Department, it was unclear why she pulled onto the shoulder, however, a person on the scene reported that the mother of the children had stopped on the shoulder after a suitcase fell off the car. While trying to retrieve the suitcase, the two children who ran into the lanes were fatally struck.

The mother was placed under arrest on unknown charges.

Village News/Gilberto Gonzales screenshot

Two children died after exiting their SUV on the eastbound 78 freeway in Vista on June 18, Father's Day, 2023. The mother, Sandra Ortiz, was booked for felony vehicular manslaughter and DUI.

The crash was being investigated by the California Highway Patrol. More will be reported as information becomes available.

Gilbert Gonzales contributed to this story.


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