SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — The man suspected in an alleged DUI crash that injured a pregnant mother and killed her unborn baby in Rio Linda back in April 2019 will not face manslaughter or murder charges.
Ronny Ward III has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with greater than .08 percent blood alcohol and personally inflicting great bodily injury. However, according to the District Attorney’s office, "the law of manslaughter, including vehicular manslaughter, does not include acts that result in the death of an unborn baby."
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Ciara Villegas was six months pregnant at the time of the crash on April 8, that left her in critical condition, forcing her to have an emergency C-section at the hospital. Sadly, her baby, named “RJ”, died two days later, on April 10.
"Not a day goes by, not a second goes by that I'm not thinking of my son," Villegas said.
Now healed, Villegas held a rally on Friday at the DA’s office, calling for manslaughter charges against Ward.
About 15 family members and friends met in front of the office Friday wearing t-shirts, holding signs, and photos in support of Villegas.
"We are going to try and fight it as much as we can for my son," she said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi for the Sacramento County District Attorney's office commented on the decision.
“It would be impossible not to recognize and acknowledge the senseless tragedy of this case," Grippi said in a statement. "However, this office, like all prosecutor’s offices, is bound by our professional ethics and the law."
Mercedes Villegas is Ciara's sister. She says her family won't stop seeking justice until their voices are heard.
"My nephew who was born cesarean section, who fought for his life for two and a half days is not considered a baby, according to the state of California," Mercedes Villegas said. "And we find that unacceptable and we find it horrendous."
The Villegas family is also fighting to change the law to include the death of a fetus in its definition of manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter.
"It's heartbreaking going to the DA's office and hearing he's only being charged with DUI and [that] there's nothing we can do because he was a fetus - although he was born and he died after he was born," Ciara Villegas said.
The family is currently seeking appeals to the DA's decision.