National News

3-year-old in driver’s seat of truck that fatally struck 2-year-old: Police

todayMarch 19, 2024


Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(WOODLAND, Calif.) — An unattended 3-year-old was behind the wheel of a truck left running at a California gas station when the vehicle fatally struck a 2-year-old, authorities said.

The incident occurred Saturday in Woodland, in the Sacramento metropolitan area, police said.

The owner of the Dodge truck left the vehicle running while parked at a pump with his 3-year-old in a car seat and went into the gas station store, according to police. The 3-year-old then managed to get out of the car seat and into the driver’s seat, according to police.

“The truck began moving forward and it collided with a two-year-old child who was near a taco stand on the edge of the lot,” the Woodland Police Department said in a statement Monday.

Officers responded to a report of a child hit by a vehicle around 3:46 p.m., police said. The 2-year-old was seated at a table when the collision occurred, police said. Family members transported the toddler to a hospital, where she died from her injuries, police said.

The 2-year-old was identified by officials and her family as Ailahni Sanchez Martinez, of Woodland. Her father, Sandro Sanchez, told Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV that she was about to turn 3 in April.

Witnesses told police they saw the 3-year-old in the driver seat, Woodland Police Sgt. Robert Towle told KXTV.

All parties involved have cooperated in the investigation, police said. An arrest has not been made, police said.

“We are working to ensure a thorough investigation is completed. This includes taking statements, analyzing evidence, reviewing video surveillance footage, creating scene diagrams, and completing investigative reports,” police said. “We ask for the community’s patience while this occurs.”

The completed investigation will be forwarded to the local district attorney’s office for review, police said.

A memorial to Ailahni has grown at the site of the collision, as her family is hoping for accountability.

“That person took a life from a little girl,” Sanchez told KXTV. “His truck was supposed to be in off.”

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