Driver in crash that killed 9-year old released from hospital

Posted at 6:50 PM, Dec 29, 2017
and last updated 2018-01-08 14:45:14-05

Fort Pierce Police say Julio Ruiz, the driver of the car that crashed into a parked pickup truck on Christmas morning, killing 9-year old Issac Santillan, has been released from the hospital. 

Ruiz was driving at 4:30 a.m. with his girlfriend and his 5-year-old daughter and her brother, Issac.

He was driving on Cortez Road when he drove through a stop sign. Skid marks on the wrong side of the road indicate he hit the brakes but he was not able to make the stop and crashed into the pickup in someone’s yard.

Issac died at the scene. His sister, 5-year-old Alani Ruiz was admitted to the hospital but was released Wednesday evening. 

“I think we can all agree that we just want to figure out what happened,” said Emyln Benitez, a cousin of the family on Monday. 

But four days after his death, his family is still in the dark as to why Issac was in Ruiz’s car at 4:30 a.m.

“A 9-year-old should be in bed, you know,” said Issac’s aunt, Cynthia Santillan. 

“He wasn’t even supposed to be there,” Benitez said. “I mean, that was not his legal guardian.”

Issac was with his grandmother and aunt on Christmas Eve, celebrating his birthday. 

“He was so happy with his gifts,” Santillan said. 

They dropped him off at his legal guardian’s home at 11:30 p.m. How Issac and his sister ended up with Ruiz is a mystery to them. 

“So there are a lot of questions that arise right now as to why he had him,” Benitez said.

Police are still investigating the crash. Detectives are waiting for the results of a toxicology report to see whether alcohol and drugs were a factor. 

Investigators say Ruiz was speeding before the crash happened. Ruiz has a history of driving under the influence. 

In 2011, his license was suspended for DUI. Then, he was arrested twice for driving without a license. 

Ruiz was also arrested for use or possession of drug paraphernalia and having an open container in the car.

He was arrested four times for battery and domestic violence, once for burglary in 2009, and twice for grand theft auto.

Ruiz’s girlfriend was the passenger in the car and remains in the hospital, according to police.

“An innocent little boy lost his life because of somebody careless,” Santillan said. “Somebody that we love that we never going to see again.”

Issac’s family said Issac’s body has been released to the funeral home Friday morning.