Surveillance video shows Lake Worth parking lot tragedy




Posted on August 5, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 4:22 PM

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LAKE WORTH — Police released chilling surveillance video Sunday showing an out-of-control truck plowing into a group of shoppers one day earlier.

The footage, captured by nearby store cameras, shows the truck traveling so fast that families had little time to react.

“He was coming too fast,” said Maria Rodriguez, who saw the truck race through the Target shopping center parking lot in the 6300 block of Lake Worth Boulevard around 1:40 p.m. on Saturday.

“He ran over all four of them," Rodriguez said. "He kept going.”

Several people are seen in the video walking with their children to their cars moments before the truck slams into them. Four of the six people hit were children under the age of 10.

In the video, no one appears to notice the truck's approach.

One girl, nine-year-old Jianna Fariaf, does dash in front of her family only to run into the path of the truck. The impact threw her onto a nearby car’s windshield. Police say she is recovering at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Another girl, Savannah Deegear, 7, didn’t survive. She was killed while walking next to her mother, who was only grazed.

The video shows if Savannah had taken another step or two, the truck likely would have missed her.

Savannah’s family said the Saginaw second-grader had been shopping with her family on Saturday and was excited about returning to Parkview Elementary in Fort Worth later this month. She had already selected her outfit: A new blue dress with a sequined star on her chest and cowboy boots.

She was also excited about a new puppy her family had just given her a few days ago. And friends said she loved watching Cowboys games with her father, who is a big fan.

Savannah's father, Mark, is seen on the video rushing to her motionless body on the pavement.

“It’s traumatic,” said Lake Worth police Officer Don Price. “You don’t see something like that every day. You take your children out to shop; you want to believe they’re safe.”

Police identified the driver as Vincente Martinez, 82. His family said he suffers from diabetes, and that a seizure likely caused him to lose control of his pickup truck.

“He doesn’t drive that fast even normally,” said his daughter, Esther Zenteno.

Martinez was clearly dazed after the accident, but wasn’t seriously injured. While he has not been arrested, Martinez could face manslaughter charges.

“I would give anything if it had been my father gotten hurt instead of innocent bystanders,” Zenteno said.

Martinez’ path of destruction stretched for several hundred yards. Surveillance video showed him driving slowly in the parking lot before the truck suddenly picked up speed.

Police say he first hit a group of people outside a Ross department store. Percella Blanco, 25, and her two children Isaiah, 4, and Isidro, 5, were struck along with Carol Guzman, 40.

Officers on Sunday said Percella Blanco was listed in critical condition at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. Conditions of the other victims were not available.

After striking the group outside Ross, police said Martinez kept driving for several hundred more yards. His truck then swerved into two more families outside a nearby Target store before crashing into parked cars.

“Next thing I knew he was on top of my car,” said Paul Ruhl, who had just pulled into a handicapped parking space. “There were two little girls on the ground, their families screaming and trying to help them.”

Outside the Target store this weekend, shoppers left flowers and candles in the parking space where Savannah died. William Pemberton, 8, didn’t know the child, but felt compelled to leave a stuffed teddy bear his mother bought for him inside.

“I thought it was pretty sad that the little girl passed away,” he said. “She passed away, and she was only seven.”