The memory of striking and killing 14-year-old Sean Casey brings tears to Angela Cruz’s eyes. So does the thought of going to jail, the punishment the city prosecutor seeks for her driving on a suspended license and not paying the fines imposed for the collision that killed the boy.
The 25-year-old Mesa woman has not spoken publicly about the crash, other than in a December court appearance. She was back in court on Friday after prosecutors said they are seeking to put her in jail.
Now, she says she is neither irresponsible, cold-hearted, nor thumbing her nose at the system. She says she reached her legal and financial predicaments after pouring her efforts into caring for her sick, elderly father.
Casey’s Sept. 23, 2005, death sparked debate about speed limits near Rhodes Junior High School. Casey’s father, Don, has been vocal about jailing drivers who cause crashes out of simple, rather than criminal, negligence.
Don Casey did not return a call seeking comment.
Cruz was driving and looking down at paperwork when, police say, she ran a red light at Baseline Road and Longmore and struck Sean Casey.
In December, she was fined $3,867 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. Her license was suspended for six months.
A traffic stop Aug. 25 landed her back in Mesa municipal Court on Friday, where a judge assigned her a publicly paid attorney and set Dec. 13 for her next day in court.
Cruz said she didn’t drive for six months and that she believed her license was reinstated when she was stopped by Mesa police.
Caring for her father, who requires round-the-clock care, doesn’t allow her to get a fulltime job.
Her part-time jobs don’t last long either when she puts her father’s care first, she said.
“You’re in this financial situation where you’re stuck all the time,” Cruz said.
Cruz said her comments Friday weren’t meant to invoke pity, but to explain herself and reiterate that she is remorseful.
“With me, as the driver, I carry the (guilt) every day,” she said.
Now, she and her family will have to figure out how she will pay the fine or, if she goes to jail, how they will care for her father, Cruz said.