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Murder charges filed for fatal crash
Luis Cruz
Luis Cruz

The Turlock man believed to have been behind the wheel in a collision that claimed the lives of three people from one family, has officially been charged with murder.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Luis Miguel Cruz, 28, charging him with three counts of murder, three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and felony hit and run resulting in death for the Sept. 6 collision.

The collision claimed the life of 4-year-old Brian Flores, his mother, 20-year-old Julia Argandar-Cruz, and his grandmother, 47-year-old Maria Elena Flores-Corrales. Argandar-Cruz’s 2-year-old daughter was walking with her family, but escaped the incident unharmed.

Cruz was arraigned on the amended charges Wednesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court. He has entered a not guilty plea and has been appointed an attorney from the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s Office.

Cruz was initially released after being questioned by investigators, pending additional information, said Turlock Police Lt. Ron Reid. He was taken into custody again on Monday at the Turlock Police Department and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail and held on a $100,000 bail.

The district attorney’s office sought to have Cruz’s bail increased, in light of the murder charges and Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Nan Cohan Jacobs increased to amount to $4.5 million.

According to Stanislaus County Superior Court records, Cruz had four previous convictions for driving without a license, including a misdemeanor charge.

The family of four was out for a walk at 7:44 p.m. Saturday in the area of Rockwood Avenue and Boxwood Way when the speeding car came their way.

Cruz was reportedly driving a BMW at a high rate of speed westbound on Rockwood when he lost control, according to the Turlock Police Department. The BMW swerved up onto the sidewalk, striking the two women and the young boy. The vehicle then struck a utility box and a stop sign. The car crashed into a birch tree which sent it careening into a home at the corner of Boxwood and Rockwood. The BMW smashed through two bedrooms of the home before coming to a rest.

The force of the impact threw the victims into the air at least 50 feet, according to some of the witnesses’ statements.

As soon as the BMW came to a stop two men ran from the car, according to the police department.

Several citizens chased after one man they saw getting out of the driver’s side. The citizens were able to catch the suspect when he tripped over a fence on Boxwood and hold him until police arrived.

Early into the investigation the Turlock Police Department stated alcohol appeared to be a factor in the collision. The criminal complaint filed against Cruz states he had a blood alcohol level more than two times the legal driving limit.

The passenger who ran from the crash was apprehended a few hours at a home in the 400 block of E. Linwood Avenue after Turlock Police investigators obtained a search warrant. The passenger was briefly detained but has not been charged with anything as of this time.

A visitation at Allen Mortuary at 247 N. Broadway in Turlock is set for noon Sept. 16. A Rosary will follow at 7 p.m. Mass will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 17 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Burial will take place in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.

Memorial contributions can be made to Westside Ministries at 952 Columbia Ave., Turlock, Ca. 95380.

A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 23.