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.