Tearful testimony in accused drunken driver's trial

Mom: 'I thought my baby was dead'

SAN ANTONIO - In slow measured sentences often punctuated my sobs, a mother describes the horror of her and her two daughters being run down in their front yard three years ago.

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“I thought my baby was dead,” Tracy Lopez recalled as she told of seeing her 18-month-old daughter, Ava, lying face-down in her front yard.

“All I saw was a car coming right at me,” Lopez said.

The car, a late-model Mercedes convertible, jumped the curb in front of the Lopez home on the evening of April 23, 2009.

Behind the wheel was Julie Ann Bronson, 45, who investigators said had been drinking all day and had taken a sleep aid before leaving her home.

Lopez, who is a nurse, said that though injured herself, her only concerns were for her daughters.

She and her 3-year-old daughter suffered bumps and bruises. Ava had taken the brunt of the accident as she was tossed into the air and hit the car’s windshield.

“The whole time I just kept saying over and over, ‘Mommy loves you and I’ll do anything for you if you fight, if you stay with us,'” Lopez said she told Ava as she administered first aid.

Though gravely hurt, Ava survived, Lopez testified, but continues to undergo extensive therapy.

“Our whole lives now revolve around her therapy sessions ... usually five a day,” Lopez told the jury.

Bronson continued driving after striking the family and was arrested several miles away driving on only the rims of her wheels. Her tires blew out as her car jumped the curb before hitting the victims, investigators said.

She has plead guilty to charges of intoxication assault and leaving the scene of an accident and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Bronson is expected to testify when the punishment phase of her trial resumes on Monday in Judge Melissa Skinner’s 290th District Court.


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