Driver involved in deadly crash of 2-year-old, faces drug misdemeanor, DUI charges


An alleged DUI driver has been charged in connection with a collision that killed a 2-year-old boy, but the charges she’s facing don’t carry any prison time.

It’s rare that a case where a suspected DUI driver is involved in a fatal crash and they aren’t charged with causing the victim’s death, but it does happen. Most recently in the controversial case of John Giumarra III.

In this case, however, officers found Ladanna Morales to be under the influence of marijuana and a central nervous system depressant, they say the deadly crash was not her fault.

2-year-old Thaddeus Thomas Junior, also known as TJ, was killed in March on Union Avenue, in the parking lot of the Mirage Motel. Reports say the toddler was playing with other children as he rode his scooter in the parking lot, and was supervised by family.

Surveillance video depicted a family member telling him to be careful, as 55-year-old Ladanna Morales’ car entered the parking lot. But when the family member turned away for mere seconds, reports say the child rode in front of the car and was dragged under.

They say Morales was driving five to ten miles per hour and wouldn’t have been able to see the child. Reports say Morales was calm and unemotional. She told officers she didn’t see the little boy and also admitted to smoking a bit of marijuana earlier that day. When they booked her into jail for DUI, officers found a glass pipe under her breast.

Ladanna Morales has no criminal record in Kern County. Though she was arrested for DUI, BPD’s investigation revealed the 2-year-old was at fault for the crash. Prosecutors charged Morales with two misdemeanor charges, one for DUI and one for the drug paraphernalia.

She faces probation for the DUI and up to six months in jail for the second charge. 

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