MODESTO -- The parents of a bicyclist who was killed in a 2010 hit-and-run collision west of Turlock have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, her parents and a sergeant of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
Vanessa Carrillo, 23, pleaded no contest in May to felony hit-and-run resulting in injury and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old Sacramento resident Patrick O'Connor.
The civil complaint alleges that Vanessa Carrillo's parents, Elizabeth and Juan Carrillo, were negligent in response to their daughter's actions and that Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Marc Nuno obstructed the investigation because of his alleged relationship with Carrillo.
Nuno and Vanessa Carrillo were involved in a "personal, intimate relationship that commenced long before and continued after the September 1, 2010, death of Patrick O'Connor," the complaint sates.
Vanessa Carrillo was a criminal-justice student at California State University, Stanislaus, and met Nuno through the law enforcement ride-along program.
During the investigation into the collision, "Nuno provided advice and counsel to defendant Vanessa Carrillo in an attempt to evade, avoid and minimize the consequences of her criminal act," the complaint alleges.
It further states that Nuno asked a California Highway Patrol officer and his sergeant not to perform any field sobriety tests on Vanessa Carrillo or require her take a chemical test to determine if she was under the influence at the time of the collision. None were performed.
Attempts by The Bee to reach the plaintiffs and the defendants Friday were not successful.
The complaint, filed in late June by O'Connor's parents, Jim and Mary O'Connor, alleges the following:
On Sept. 1, 2010, Carrillo struck O'Connor from behind with her Toyota Corolla along Fulkerth Road. The car hit his bicycle at about 55 mph. He was thrown across its hood and pronounced dead at the scene.
Carrillo did not stop, but purportedly called her mother and told her she had hit someone and then drove 12 miles to the family's home in Patterson without calling 911. Elizabeth Carrillo did not call 911 either at the time of her daughter's call or upon her return home.
Instead, Elizabeth and Vanessa Carrillo and an unidentified third person drove back to the crime scene.
When the three arrived to find police at the scene, they turned around and headed back toward Patterson, again without notifying police.
It was back in Patterson that Vanessa Carrillo called police and told the operator she might have hit a dog.
A witness at the scene saw Vanessa Carrillo hit O'Connor and wrote down her license plate number. The investigating CHP officer at the scene used the plate to find Vanessa Carrillo at her Patterson home.
Ninety minutes later, the officer arrived at Carrillo's home and found the white Toyota Corolla in an open garage. It had front- and rear-end damage, including a fractured windshield and lights and a dented fender and hood. There was blood and hair on the top of the roof just above the passenger door.
The complaint alleges that Nuno was at the home when the CHP officer arrived.
O'Connor's parents hired a private investigator after their son's death and traveled at least 26 times from their home in Southern California to attend Vanessa Carrillo's court hearings.
According to the lawsuit, the private investigator learned Vanessa Carrillo had a long-standing and common practice of tweeting on her cell phone while she was driving and had tweeted comments about the difficulty of driving in high heels or while putting on her makeup.
James and Mary O'Connor are seeking damages against the four defendants not only for wrongful death but for negligence, survival, negligent entrustment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to intentionally inflict emotional distress.
Vanessa Carrillo received a four-year suspended sentence, of which she has spent no time in custody.
She was supposed to start an initial incarceration period of one year in jail at the end of July, but received an extension on her surrender date and is not required to turn herself in until Aug. 31.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366.
For past coverage of the case, click on the links with this story at www.modbee.com/local.