Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Driver who hit Phils fan in SF gets 1-year sentence

Ryan White of Lower Makefield Township was critically injured and faces another major surgery Friday.

Driver who hit Phils fan in SF gets 1-year sentence

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Ryan White is welcomed home in September. (Bill Reed/Staff)

The driver of the pickup truck that critically injured 9-year-old Phillies fan Ryan White in San Francisco last summer was sentenced Wednesday to one-year in prison.

Andrew Alan Vargas, 22, also was sentenced to five year’s probation and must complete a nine-month DUI program and 100 hours of community service, according to a statement by District Attorney George Gascón.

Meanwhile, the lower Bucks County boy faces another major surgery Friday, his mother, Roseanne White, said.

“We’re OK with it,” Roseanne White said about the sentence. “I just wish Ryan was better before he [Vargas] finishes his sentence.”

Vargas, who has been in prison since Aug. 11, could be released anytime from today till Aug. 11, an assistant district attorney said.

On Aug. 4, the Lower Makefield Township boy was hit near AT&T Park after he and his family watched the Phillies shut out the San Francisco Giants. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a laceration to his liver, and a broken pelvis, left leg and ankle.

During Ryan White’s first weekend in the hospital, Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino, manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. visited and brought him autographed team gear.

The boy was hospitalized for 37 days before returning home, and he has undergone several surgeries and procedures since.

After 37 days of hospital treatment, Ryan White returned home, where he was taught by a tutor before returning to Edgewood Elementary School.

Vargas, a former college student with no prior record, pleaded guilty to one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and an allegation that great bodily injury was inflicted during the commission of the offense.

Suzanne White said she was glad Vargas had taken responsibility for accident and that he had expressed remorse in handwritten letters to Ryan White, now 10, and his parents.

“It was an irresponsible choice,” she said, “but based on everything we’ve been told, we realize he is not a hardened criminal, and he never set out to hurt Ryan.”

The family asked that Vargas perform his community service by talking to college students about drinking and driving, she said.

The family’s insurance has covered medical bills totatling hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Roseanne White said she does not know what their final liability will be.

A trust fund has been established to help with the expenses. Donations can be mailed to the Ryan White Trust, P.O. Box 562, Langhorne, PA 19047.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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