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Local News

Driver Pleads No Contest to Vehicular Manslaughter in Death of Teen Sergio Romero

Manuel Flores Jr. faces up to a year in jail after striking the San Marcos High student as he crossed Milpas Street last October

The driver accused of striking and killing 15-year-old Sergio Romero last fall has pleaded no contest to a charge of vehicular manslaughter.

Sergio Romero
Sergio Romero

Manuel Flores Jr. appeared in court Friday. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 16 and faces a maximum of a year in jail for the misdemeanor charge, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter.

Romero, a San Marcos High School student, was walking across Milpas Street at Ortega Street on Oct. 7, 2011, when he was hit.

Sergio’s parents, Armando and Guadalupe Romero, have filed a civil lawsuit against Flores, claiming property damage, personal injury and wrongful death. General negligence and negligence per se are also listed as causes of action against Flores.

The complaint states that Flores was operating the vehicle at the time of the incident as part of his job, and lists California Shopping Cart Retrieval Corporation Inc. and Scolari’s Food & Drug Company as defendants.

Flores “so negligently and carelessly entrusted, managed, maintained, drove or caused to be driven that certain white flatbed truck, so as to proximately cause said vehicle to strike decedent Sergio Romero, who was a pedestrian crossing in a marked crosswalk, resulting in his death when he was hit,” according to the complaint.

At a community forum last year, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Mike McGrew said that 19-year-old Flores was traveling at “a minimum of 49 miles an hour” when he struck Romero.

“It’s a tragic incident,” McGrew said then. “It’s very sad for us to have to investigate.”

Guadalupe Romero, Sergio’s mother, spoke several weeks later at another forum in Spanish to the two city traffic engineers and one police investigator in attendance, imploring them to make the changes needed to prevent more deaths.

Since then, discussions have been under way at the city level to determine what those changes could be.

Engineers dismissed the possibility of a traffic light at the intersection, despite public outcry, but are exploring several other improvements, such as restriping the road to close the distance for pedestrians crossing the road.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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