Deputies with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department attempted to take Malcolm Paterson into custody at his home Tuesday on an arrest warrant, but they believe he’s hospitalized at Eisenhower Medical Center.
The 84-year-old Palm Desert man is charged in a crash that injured 10-year-old Adrian Grajeda on October 23, 2013. Grajeda had to have part of his lower leg removed.
Paterson failed to appear in court Monday, which is the fourth time he’s been a no-show. News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 went to Paterson’s home on Monday morning but nobody answered the door.
According to the sheriff’s department, authorities believe Paterson is a patient at Eisenhower Medical Center, but due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), there is no information available regarding his treatment.
At this point, Paterson still hasn’t been taken into custody and will be allowed to remain hospitalized, deputies said Tuesday. The sheriff’s department will followup and do their best to take Paterson before court as soon as possible, if he doesn’t go to court on his own when medically capable of doing so.
KESQ/CBS Local 2 spoke with Paterson’s wife after he failed to appear to court for the third time. Evelyn Paterson said her husband began showing signs of dementia after he crashed into the Lincoln Elementary School playground in Palm Desert in October of 2013.
Paterson is charged with a felony count of driving under the influence causing injury, along with a sentence-enhancing allegation of great bodily injury.
He was driving a Chevrolet Cruze south on Portola Avenue, approaching a red light at Magnesia Falls Drive, about 9:50 a.m. Oct. 23, 2013, when he “mistakenly pressed the accelerator rather than the brake pedal when approaching traffic stopped at an intersection,” according to prosecutors.
Then he “pressed harder on the accelerator without realizing his mistake,” according to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant. Paterson’s car collided with another vehicle, veered onto a sidewalk, crashed into a traffic signal and finally struck the steel perimeter fence of Abraham Lincoln Elementary School on Rutledge Way in Palm Desert.
Debris from the crash struck Adrian, who was airlifted to a hospital, where his right leg was amputated. Other students were outside at the time, but no one else was hurt. Paterson stayed at the scene, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Though a blood test showed Paterson’s blood-alcohol level was .04 percent, below the legal limit of 0.08 percent, his “actions throughout the events of the collision, combined with his measured (alcohol level), led me to believe that alcohol contributed to a mental impairment, making him unable to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner,” sheriff’s Deputy John Cleary wrote in the declaration.
A judge re-issued a bench warrant for Paterson’s arrest after he failed to appear in court Monday.