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Elderly Palm Desert Man Facing Felony DUI Charge In Crash That Forced Boy's Leg Amputation

An 83-year-old Palm Desert motorist mistakenly pushed the gas pedal instead of the brake while under the influence of alcohol, causing a crash that injured a 10-year-old boy last fall, according to court documents obtained this week.

Malcolm Ross Paterson was charged Friday with one count of DUI causing injury, along with a sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegation, stemming from the Oct. 23 crash.

No court date has been set, and Paterson is not in custody, according to court and jail records.

Paterson was driving a Chevrolet Cruze south on Portola Avenue, approaching a red light at Magnesia Falls Drive about 9:50 a.m., when he "mistakenly pressed the accelerator rather than the brake pedal when approaching traffic stopped at an intersection," then "pressed harder on the accelerator without realizing his mistake," according to a sheriff's official and a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant.

Paterson's car collided with another vehicle, veered onto a sidewalk, crashed into a traffic signal and finally the steel perimeter fence of Abraham Lincoln Elementary School on Rutledge Way in Palm Desert.

Debris from the crash struck student Adrian Grajeda, who was airlifted to a hospital and had to have his left leg amputated, according to the declaration.

Other students were outside at the time, but no one else was hurt. Paterson stayed at the scene, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's department.

A blood test showed Paterson's blood alcohol level was .04, below the legal limit of .08, according to the declaration, which was prepared by sheriff's Deputy John Cleary.

"Paterson's actions throughout the events of the collision, combined with his measured BAC, led me to believe that alcohol contributed to a mental impairment, making him unable to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner," Cleary wrote.

Paterson told The Desert Sun that he had two glasses of wine the night before the crash, and that the car -- which he bought the day before the crash - - malfunctioned.

In April, Adrian's mother sued Paterson for negligence, alleging that he knew or should have known that he was "unfit and/or incompetent to operate the subject vehicle given he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident." The suit asks for unspecified damages.


– Bay City News Service.

Marvin Harrison May 21, 2014 at 09:00 AM
Tragic case, but if what he said was true, most people wouod not think wine from the night before would still impair their driving. being 83 most likely impaired his driving. Responsible, yes, but probably not criminal.
Michael Wondoloski May 21, 2014 at 09:57 AM
Probably not impaired from alcohol, 83..shouldn't be driving ! Hope he has good insurance.
Ern Batavia May 21, 2014 at 10:05 AM
I hope the old fella demands a jury trial.
Karla May 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM
.04 Blood Alcohol level is well within the legal limit, so this should not be classified as a DUI, much less a felony DUI. Age is probably the major factor. It's tragic that the boy's leg had to be amputated, though.
Sean Taroli May 21, 2014 at 04:11 PM
People over 75 should NOT be allowed to drive! As a bicyclist I can't tell you how many white knuckled, blue-haird old hags have just about hit me, my dog, or anything else in their way. Just because people come to PS to die, rather then live, is no excuse to take the rest of us with you. And WTF is up with all the old drunks in Palm Desert?! While I appreciate the sense of humor and irony of the Desert Patch, I more appreciate their almost singleminded obsession with drunk drivers. I really do. Yes it's exploitive, especially since they come out of NYC and have spread like AIDS in sub saharan Africa, but knowledge is power. I assumed drinking of this magnitude was only relegated to the old queens half perched on bar stools in Palm Springs! Gentleman, (and ladies) you have competition. CARRY ON!

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