Charges filed against driver in Fort Pierce crash that killed boy on birthday, Christmas

Posted at 2:54 PM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-07 04:51:22-05

 Formal charges were filed Monday against a drunk driver who caused a crash that killed a 9-year-old boy on Christmas morning in Fort Pierce.

"I think for the community it’s going to be a big relief when justice is served," said Shayne Stokes, Fort Pierce Police Department traffic homicide investigator.

Fort Pierce Police say Julio Ruiz of Fort Pierce was driving a 2005 Toyota Corolla eastbound in the westbound lane of Cortez Boulevard at 4:38 a.m. on December 25, 2017 when he crashed into an unoccupied Ford F-250 pickup that was parked off the roadway.

"We gathered that he had been drinking," Stokes said. "They actually asked him to leave the kids there and he said no, he wasn’t leaving the kids."

An adult woman and a 5-year-old girl were injured in the crash. 9-year-old Isaac Santillan, of Fort Pierce, died at the scene.

"He never buckled the children in or had his passenger buckle the children in," Stokes said.

An investigation revealed that Ruiz had a blood alcohol level of .145 at the time of the crash and was driving at least 77 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Ruiz has been in the St. Lucie County Jail since Jan. 5 on unrelated charges.

The new charges filed against him include vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, two counts of child neglect with great bodily harm, two counts of DUI with bodily injury, one count of DUI with property damage, and driving with license suspended -  prior conviction.

"I think this crash really touched the hearts of a lot of citizens of our city and I had a lot of witnesses coming forward even after the fact," Stokes said.