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DALLAS (CBS11) – From all appearances, Juan Carlos Velasquez is a tortured man. He is jailed in a parking lot crash that killed a young mother leaving an Oak Cliff laundromat over the weekend.
“I’m having nightmares,” said the 47-year-old. “I’m having a hard time dealing with this.”
Sharing his story with reporters from behind the thick glass of a visiting area in the Dallas County Jail, Velasquez insisted there was never any intent to harm. He blames the fatal crash on the SUV’s thick floor mat.
“The mat was caught up in there and every time I hit the brake, it would accelerate and it shot out,” said Velasquez—gesturing to demonstrate how he tried to turn the steering wheel to control the vehicle.
Gonzalez-Cortez was pinned between two vehicles and died steps from her husband and infant daughter.
As the crowd gathered, some suggested that the driver had been drinking. Velasquez insisted he was not.
“The police gave me a breathalyzer test,” said Velasquez. “I wasn’t drunk. I was scared. That’s why I ran. I ran because I was scared.”
It is a decision he now regrets. Velasquez is charged with failure to stop and render aid and is being held on a $100,000 bond.
“I feel so bad for the victim’s family. I have trouble sleeping. I ask for forgiveness. I ask God to forgive me for this. I just feel so bad because my family is suffering. My children are suffering. I can’t sleep at night. It was just a freak accident.”
In the aftermath of the crash, grieving relatives called Velasquez a “coward” for having fled the scene—telling CBS11 “others were running toward her, trying to help… he ran away.”
CBS11 passed along his apology. But, family members Thursday were preoccupied with trying to figure out how they would pay for Gonzalez-Cortes’ funeral. Her sister, Yolanda Gonzalez, started a GoFundMe account to collect donations and said Thursday, “It’s just so painful.”
As for the driver’s apology, Gonzalez responded, “I wish him no bad and leave him to God.”
While sharing his story, Velasquez often dropped his head into his hands and worried aloud about who would provide for his three sons: 9, 11, and 13, while he sits in jail with little hope of making bond.
“I love my children. I love my wife,” said Velasquez. “I’m sorry. My family. My parents. Everybody’s disappointed.”
Velasquez admits that he’s been in trouble before. He has a long list of prior offenses ranging from drug arrests to attempted burglary. But, he says he’s spent the past 16 years staying away from trouble. And it took less a moment… a moment that Velasquez calls a “freak accident” to put him back in a place thought he’d left behind.
To the victim’s family: “I’m sorry. I’m truly, truly sorry,” said Velasquez.
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