After being arrested Monday morning for reportedly causing a crash that left an 11-year-old boy dead plus three other children and two adults hospitalized, John Albert Hernandez called his mother.
“He said, ‘Mom, I’m in jail. I had an accident,’” said Hernandez’s mother, Monica Olveda. “And he told me, ‘Mom, I killed someone. I killed a kid.’”
“I didn’t want it to be real,” she continued through tears. “I’m so sorry to that family. I’m so, so sorry. I tried everything I could. But I knew something like this would happen.”
Hernandez remains jailed on a charge of intoxication manslaughter and four counts of intoxication assault. His bail was set at $85,000, according to records.
The three-car crash that killed Brian Barrientos happened eight miles from Olveda’s home in the 6600 block of Marcum Drive on the West Side.
Hernandez, 27, was headed east in the 4200 block of Southwest Military Drive when he rear-ended a pickup, sending it into oncoming traffic, where it collided with a minivan, police Sgt. Javier Salazar said.
Brian was one of four children in the pickup. He was flown to University Hospital, where he died at 9:30 a.m., according to a police report.
The pickup’s driver, Maria Barrientos, 37, as well as the other Barrientos children — Tanya, 9, Karen, 7, and Luis, 2 — were taken to University by ambulance.
The report shows that everyone in the pickup was wearing seat belts, but under Brian’s name it lists “unknown.”
The minivan’s driver, Juan Gonzales, 31, was also hospitalized.
An attempt to reach the Barrientos family wasn’t successful.
Hernandez was said to be acting drunk at the scene, Salazar said.
After he was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, Hernandez, who was escorted by police and wearing a hospital gown and jeans, told reporters he had not been drinking before the wreck.
“I (was drinking) two days ago,” he yelled, adding that he was not intoxicated.
Police drew blood to test for alcohol and drugs, according to the report.
Hernandez said the pickup was carrying a load that shifted and he didn’t notice its brake lights after it slowed.
His mother, Olveda, sitting at a dining room table with her husband of 22 years, at times broke down in tears as she described the overnight hours leading up to the crash, during which she called police three times, the last call at 7:45 a.m., just 15 minutes before the fatal wreck.
“The cops in this area know me,” she said. “They know John. I told the cops he was messed up. He was a danger.”
Records show he had been arrested multiple times for family violence. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his teens, Hernandez has been to mandatory drug rehabilitation and was supposed to be on medication but wouldn’t take it, his mother said.
On Sunday night, his girlfriend showed up at the house with their two sons, 5 and 3, Olveda said. She let her stay because she was worried about the boys. But soon, her son and his girlfriend began fighting, first through phone calls and then when he arrived at the house, Olveda said.
Eventually, she kicked them both out.
“I told them they can’t be fighting like that in front of the boys,” she said.
Twice, Hernandez left and came back. Olveda said she thought he was drunk and was later told by her daughter, Hernandez’s sister, that he might have been on prescription pills.
Olveda’s phone shows she called police at 4:19 a.m. and 4:32 a.m. Officers showed up, but each time Hernandez was gone, Olveda said, and they told her there was nothing they could do without evidence of family violence.
He hadn’t physically hurt them, Olveda said, but she told police she believed he was drunk and a danger.
When reached for comment late Monday, Salazar said he couldn’t confirm the times officers were called to the Olveda home. He also said police are in a tough spot unless they have probable cause to arrest someone.
“Until we have that person standing in front of us displaying signs of mental illness or proof of a crime, only then can we take appropriate action,” he said.
Salazar said officers are trained to handle those with mental illness.
The last time the Olvedas called police, Hernandez had returned, but then took off again, speeding away in the Ford Taurus, knocking over a trash can.
Officers got there quickly, Olveda and her husband said. They took the information and left to look for him. They don’t know if that was before, during or after the crash.
Olveda said she’s conflicted between the love she feels for her only son and the anger she has toward him for what has happened and the pain he has caused both families.
“My heart hurts so bad,” Olveda said. “I couldn’t even imagine theirs.”
Ana Ley contributed to this report.