It was an emotional day for Gabe De La Cruz and his family. De La Cruz is overwhelmed with guilt. His 4-year-old nephew is dead, killed when he was run over by his uncle's truck.
But De La Cruz was not driving. No one was.
The tragedy unfolded Tuesday afternoon. De La Cruz's truck was parked in the driveway while he was working. The little boy's grandmother heard the truck's alarm go off.
Lieutenant Sammy Joseph, Atwater Police Department says, "She was trying to deactivate the alarm but she activated the automatic start button that she was not familiar with. Apparently the 4-year-old child had followed her outside. The 4-year-old went in front of the vehicle."
When the engine started the truck lurched forward and pinned the boy to a metal fence. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died.
"That's the best way to phrase it, a freak accident," says Lt. Joseph.
So, the big question is how did an automatic start button cause the truck to actually move?
Lt. Jospeh says, "This was a manual vehicle so apparently it was in second gear and therefore and the brakes were not on as well, so just once you started the car, it leaps forward."
But De La Cruz says his emergency brake was on.
Daniel Cross,Auto Mechanic says, "If it's starting to get too weak with the parking break it can still cause it to jump forward even with the parking break."
Cross says automatic start systems aren't typically installed in manual vehicles for this very reason. Still, there are devices available for added protection.
"Usually they're supposed to have a neutral safety switch that's supposed to stop it from doing that but it just depends on the year of vehicle, how it's set up all that," says Cross.
Police say the best advice they can give to avoid these kinds of accidents, is to make sure you know where a child is at all times; especially when doing anything near a vehicle.
Charges will not be filed against the family.