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Tearful mom testifies 6-year-old son is no longer ‘happy go lucky’ after DUI crash

SAN DIEGO – A mother became emotional while testifying in a trial of an illegal immigrant accused of drunken hit-and-run that seriously injured her 6-year-old boy.

Ingrid Lake and her husband Benjamin Lake took the stand Tuesday and described their sleepless nights, irrational fears and the lack of progress in their son's recovery.

"It's the lack of recovery he's not getting better," Ingrid said of her son Lennox. Doctors are evaluating his progress, but Ingrid admitted they've been putting some medical procedures off. "He's terrified."

"He gets frustrated easily," Ingrid said. "He used to be so happy go lucky. Now, he just gets tearful and upset at the littlest things. The amount I miss work and everything it's just… our marriage is, everything is impacted."

The trial is underway for an oft-deported Mexican citizen accused of driving drunk and fleeing the scene after blowing through a stop sign and crashing his truck into a car containing a family returning home from a day at Disneyland, seriously injuring Lennox Lake.

Constantino Banda Acosta, 39, is charged with hit-and-run, DUI and driving without a license. Federal immigration officials said the defendant has been deported from the United States at least 15 times over the past 15 years, most recently on Jan. 18.

Banda was speeding west on Camino de La Plaza about 11:30 p.m. May 6 in San Ysidro when he ran a stop sign at Dairy Mart Road and crashed his pickup truck into a Honda Accord carrying the 6-year-old boy and his parents, according to authorities.

Lennox, in a child safety seat in the back of the car, suffered a major head injury and is recovering.

The defendant fled the scene but was arrested about two miles away after Border Patrol agents spotted his damaged truck parked on a street, police said.

Banda's passenger, Jorge Adame Ariza, also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, testified under a grant of immunity during the defendant's two-day preliminary hearing in June that he and Banda had a number of beers that night before the accident.

Adame said Banda got in a fight with a man outside a Chula Vista restaurant after Banda's wife and a girlfriend accused the defendant of puncturing a tire on their car.

Adame said he drove up in Banda's truck after the fight and put Banda in the passenger seat. After they drove away, Banda took over as the driver, Adame testified.

San Diego police Officer Michael Muniz testified that Banda's blood- alcohol content measured .151 and .152 percent -- the legal limit is .08 -- during two breathalyzer tests about 2:15 a.m.

Banda faces seven years and eight months in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Christopher Chandler.