The man accused of hitting and killing a teen jogger in Chula Vista and then fleeing the scene was arraigned in a South Bay courtroom Tuesday.
The defendant, 47-year-old George Espinosa, is charged with one felony count of hit and run, and one misdemeanor count of involuntary vehicular manslaughter. At his arraignment, Espinosa was visibly upset and sobbed during the majority of the hearing.
Espinosa is the head boy’s tennis coach at Mater Dei High School, a private Catholic school only a few miles away from where the victim, Leilani Magno, graduated a few weeks before the crash.
Investigators say on Sunday, July 8, Magno was jogging along Lane Avenue near Scobee Park at around 8:15 p.m. when she was struck and killed by a truck George Espinosa was driving.
The southbound vehicle apparently lost control, jumped the sidewalk and hit 17-year-old Magno from behind then fled the scene, according to police.
Magno was taken to Mercy Hospital where she later died from her injuries. Her family said she was weeks away from turning 18 and would have attended the University of California, Irvine in September.
Chula Vista Police Department Captain Phil Collum said Espinoza turned himself in one day after the hit and run and gave investigators the location of his truck.
Hours after Espinosa’s arraignment, a celebration of life ceremony was held for the teen in Bonita. Her cross country coach, David Koopman, was in attendance.
“Always positive, always smiling, always upbeat,” Koopman said. “His day in court will come. We pray for his family, too, because it appears as if he’ll be behind bars a long time.”
A crowd of people touched by Magno’s character huddled with candles as loved ones spoke about her during a vigil on July 11.
Magno’s parents said among the things they’ll miss most are the times they spent laughing, singing and dancing together, and said they’ll always remember her for her genuine nature.
Source: NBC San Diego