Dad exonerated of reckless driving charges after Bay plunge facing deportation 

click to enlarge Allegations: A witness claims Agapito Hernandez was “spinning doughnuts” before the March 4 accident. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Allegations: A witness claims Agapito Hernandez was “spinning doughnuts” before the March 4 accident.

This has been no joy ride for Agapito Hernandez.

A night of crab-fishing with his sons turned into a nightmare for the 38-year-old San Francisco father, who is facing deportation to Mexico after he accidentally drove his sport utility vehicle, containing three teenage passengers, into the Bay last month.

Hernandez has been locked up in County Jail since the stunning March 4 plunge. After a two-day trial, he was found not guilty Tuesday of felony reckless driving and child endangerment charges, said his attorney, public defender Kimberly Lutes-Koths.



A witness told cops Hernandez was “spinning doughnuts” before he lost control of his 1999 Dodge SUV.

The vehicle — which contained his two sons, 17 and 19, and their 18-year-old pal — sped over a sidewalk near the Gashouse Cove Marina and plunged into the frigid Bay waters. The foursome were shivering, but uninjured, police said.

Hernandez — described by his attorney as a “sweet” family man with no criminal record — said a brake malfunction caused the accident.

During the trial, the witness who told cops Hernandez had been doing doughnuts — and who also helped the family out of the water — testified that the SUV made less than two rotations.

That, according to Lutes-Koths, hardly qualifies as evidence that he was “spinning doughnuts.” Hernandez’s sons also testified that he was not driving recklessly.

Lutes-Koths said police “never investigated the mechanical mishap,” adding there was no evidence on the ground of doughnuts.

The arresting officers, according to a police spokesman, had enough probable cause to make an arrest, and prosecutors subsequently moved forward with charges.

“The jury deliberated and made their decision,” police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said. “We respect that decision and we respect the process.”

That process means Hernandez will be deported, said Tamara Barak Aparton, a Public Defender’s Office spokeswoman.

Immigration authorities took Hernandez into custody Wednesday, Barak Aparton said, which is standard procedure for undocumented immigrants accused of felonies.

“Mr. Hernandez is a sweet, honest family man,” said Lutes-Koths, adding that he immigrated to the U.S. with his family at age 14.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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