SUV Plows Head On Into Street Vendor, Leaving The Mother Of Four In A Coma
Her family has reason to believe that the attack was a premeditated act of racism.
Fruit vendor Marlen Benitez, mother of four, is fighting for her life after a man drove his SUV at high speed into her cart. Prosecutors say he did it intentionally.
On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 28-year-old Marlen Benitez was selling fruit on Highland Avenue in San Bernadino when a dark Chevy Tahoe ploughed head-on into her cart, leaving the young mother in critical condition.
Marlen suffered severe injuries to her head and torso and remains hospitalized, in a coma.
Her cart was so completely destroyed, it is a wonder that she is still alive.
The driver, who has been identified as 42-year-old Robert Lee Spargo, tried to flee on foot, but two bystanders apprehended him and held him until the police arrived.
Prosecutors with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office say Spago's actions were intentional.
Security footage appears to show Spago aiming his vehicle at Marlen's cart and accelerating. He does not attempt to break before crashing into her.
Marlen's family is distraught.
"My daughter has four children and they are very young, and she is fighting life and death," says Marlen's father, Benigno Benítez, in Spanish. “The person who ran her over accelerated his truck to hit my daughter y eso no se vale. Eso no se vale. She was just working."
Marlen's is the latest and one of the most gruesome in a string of confrontations with and crimes against street vendors.
“We did not come to take bread out of anyone's mouth. We just come to work. This racism has been around for a long time,” Benigno explains. “Tell the man who did this that if he ever sees us, que Dios lo bendiga. God forgive him for what he did."
A GoFundMe has been started for Marlen and her family, to help cover Marlen's medical costs and to support her four children, "who are in need of money to keep food and roof over their heads."
Spago has been charged with attempted murder. Anyone with any information is asked to contact detectives at (909) 384- 5655.