Family members wonder why mother was charged in son's death

By Brandon Walker - Reporter

HOUSTON - The mother of a toddler has been charged in connection with his death, police said.

Police charged Gissel Vazquez, 18, with endangering a child after her 1-year-old son was hit and killed by a vehicle.

What happened

According to authorities, the crash was reported about 1:15 p.m. Wednesday on Tierwester Street and Dixie Drive in south Houston.

According to authorities, the boy was following Vazquez through the parking lot of an apartment complex when a white Chevrolet Impala backed out of a parking space and hit the child.

Vazquez wept during her appearance before a magistrate judge Thursday.

Surveillance video

Surveillance video showed Vazquez walking in the parking lot with a child in her arms and two small children walking behind her, prosecutors said.

"Sadly, she never even turns back around. She walks. The car strikes the little one, kills him almost instantly," said Sean Teare, chief, Harris County District Attorney's Office Vehicular Crimes Division.

Why was she charged?

Prosecutors said Vazquez left the child unattended and that is why she is charged in connection with her son’s death.

"Charges like this are filed by our office and then in a period between 90 and 180 days a grand jury either will indict or decline to indict," Teare said.

A judge set Vazquez's bond was set at $10,000. Vazquez has since posted bail. The judge said Vazquez must comply with Child Protective Services.

KPRC2 confirmed Thursday CPS is investigating.

Where did the driver go?

Cmdr. Salam Zia, of the Houston Police Department, said the driver originally left the scene but returned when officers were able to reach her by phone.

She was questioned and released, authorities said.

Still, she could be charged, authorities said, depending on an investigation that continues.

Family: 'Alan has given so much love within the year'

Rose Miranda lit candles and tied balloons around a stuffed teddy bear in remembrance of her nephew, Alan.

"He was a good boy," Miranda said. "He was something else, that little boy."

Miranda is also Vazquez's aunt and lives at the apartment complex where Alan was killed. She told KPRC2 Vazquez should not have been charged.

"I don't know how she had been charged. She was taking the baby to the doctor, the infant, to the doctor. The kids followed her (in the parking lot) just took off and followed her," Miranda said.

Driver questioned and released

Officers handcuffed the driver at the scene of the accident Wednesday. She was questioned and then released.

"We're still not certain whether or not the driver was ever able to actually see that child, which is the reason why we haven't filed charges yet," Teare said. "We're not precluding charges against that individual."

There was no answer Thursday at an address listed for the driver. However, Candalaria Pedraza, the driver's mother, told KPRC2 her daughter could not see Alan. Pedraza was in the car, a white Chevrolet Impala when Alan was hit. In Spanish, Pedraza said her daughter didn't know she had struck Alan until after they left and her phone rang.

Miranda is the one who made the call, Candalaria confirmed. Miranda confirmed it, too.

"That lady sped off. Why did she leave after hitting the baby? I called her. I called her," Miranda explained, adding she handed her phone to a police officer who talked the driver into returning.

"I turned around and said hold on and gave the phone to the cop. That is the reason and that is how she came [back] here," Miranda said.

Miranda urged investigators to look closely at the driver, who she said should be held accountable. She hopes her niece "comes out clean and everything comes out -- that my niece clears herself."

There was no answer at an address listed for Vazquez. Family members said she shares the apartment with her husband. A business card from a representative from The Department of Family and Protective Services could be seen lodged in the door's threshold.

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