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VALLEY FOCUS | Mssion Hills

Crash Victim's Family Opposes Plea Bargain

July 16, 1998|TOM SCHULTZ

Oliver Gallegos would have celebrated his 12th birthday Wednesday. Instead, the family of the deceased boy joined friends at an early afternoon news conference.

They called on officials to accept no plea bargains from Aristidi N. Arevalo, a 51-year-old Arleta man charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence in a traffic accident that killed Oliver June 20.

"It's not going to bring Oliver back, but we don't want it happening to another kid," said Peter Aguilar, the boy's uncle.

Arevalo drove an ice cream truck that police said collided with a minivan driven by Sandra Gallegos, Oliver's mother, at Arleta Avenue and Chatsworth Street.

He is being held in lieu of $1-million bail and will go before a Municipal Court judge in San Fernando for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to the court.

Sandra Gallegos, who suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung in the accident, said Wednesday, "My son was the apple of my eye."

Also riding in the minivan were Juan Egura, 13, a nephew of Sandra Gallegos whom she helps raise, and two neighbors--brothers Anthony Castillo, 9, and Bobby Castillo, 5.

Sandra Gallegos said Juan received a metal plate where he suffered a depressed skull; Bobby's right arm, legs and pelvis were broken; and Anthony awoke from a three-day coma after the accident and needs plastic surgery to his face.

Cynthia Valdez, founder and president of Victims of Lost Loved Ones, a local support group, helped the family organize the news conference.

"We want to make sure the district attorney gets letters and calls," she said.

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