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MERIDEN — The man charged in an early morning car accident that left two small children dead was arraigned Monday in Meriden Superior Court as police continued to investigate.
Israel Gonzalez, 29, of 108 Ann St., was arrested Sunday and charged with evading responsibility, reckless driving and driving without a license.
Authorities released the names of the children who died from injuries in the crash: 5-year-old Tatiana Cruz and 8-year-old Lorenzo Cruz, both students at Israel Putnam School. Another child, 12-year-old Alejandro Schroder, and the children’s parents, Michael Cruz and Gina Schroder of Meriden, were taken to the hospital. Alejandro Schroder, a student at Washington Middle School, and his mother remained hospitalized Monday, according to the family.
According to police reports, officers were dispatched to the intersection of Broad Street and Gale Avenue about 2 a.m. Sunday for a report of a two-car accident. A Subaru Legacy headed north on Broad Street had stopped at a traffic light when it was struck from behind by a GMC Denali, also headed north on Broad Street, police said.
Speed and alcohol appear to be factors in the accident, police said. Police are seeking a warrant to get the blood-alcohol test results for Gonzalez, and additional charges may be filed, police said.
In court Monday, Judge Philip Scarpellino agreed with the prosecutor and maintained bail at $1 million for Gonzalez, considering him a flight risk because he fled the scene of the accident and was found by police in a nearby home with several fake IDs. Gonzalez is being detained by the Department of Homeland Security due to his immigration status. He was appointed a public defender, Christine Janis, and had his case continued to Nov. 18.
Scarpellino said that, while Gonzalez has not been charged with driving under the influence or more serious charges, he decided to set bond based on the flight risk. According to the bail commissioner, Gonzalez has no prior criminal record, but Scarpellino said the multiple identification cards and the fact that Gonzales fled the scene factored in his decision. Scarpellino pointed out that if Gonzalez had stayed at the scene of the accident he might have been able to help the victims.
“If one person could have been helped by his sticking around,” Scarpellino said in court.
When Gonzalez was brought out of lockup by judicial marshals, the victims’ family started crying. Gonzalez looked straight ahead and communicated through a Spanish interpreter. According to court files, Gonzalez is listed with two aliases, Alejandro Gonzales and Jorge Ruis Alandiz.
The prosecutor said the court warns those charged with DUI about the horrorible tragedies that can happen with drinking and driving. This is a case where that is “exactly what happened,” he said.
David Valentin, Gina Schroder’s brother and uncle of the two children killed, said the father and older brother, Jesus Schroder, 20, are blaming themselves for the accident. Valentin said the family was coming back from a grocery shopping trip at Walmart and Tatiana was singing a song to her mother in the moments before the crash.
“It’s hard. These were our two little angels. They didn’t even get to experience life,” Valentin said. “(Gonzalez) is a grown man, own up to your mistakes and stay on the scene. He knew what he was doing when he got behind the wheel.”
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