A judge Saturday denied bail for a 56-year-old suburban Lake Worth man accused of hitting and killing a 3-year-old girl with a pickup that he was driving illegally.
During a brief hearing at the Palm Beach County Jail, Judge Sandra McSorley said Steven W. Barnes will remain incarcerated following his arrest late Friday on charges of vehicular homicide and driving while his license was revoked, causing a death.
Priscila Perez Gaspar was killed Monday afternoon in suburban Lake Worth while walking on the sidewalk with a family friend. Barnes was driving a 2006 GMC Sierra on Kirk Road and for unknown reasons lost control of the truck and plowed into Priscila.
An attorney for her family said Saturday that he plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Barnes, whom state records reveal has been arrested 32 times since 1976, including six times for drunken driving.
Barnes’ license was permanently revoked in 1996, after his fourth DUI conviction, records show. He continued driving, however, and was caught on the road in 1999, 2002 and 2008.
Sources said Barnes was impaired at the time of his arrest, which happened at his home, which is west of the Palm Beach County Park Airport on Lantana Road.
“It is the intention of everyone involved in this case … to keep him in jail for a very, very long time,” said Brian LaBovick, a Palm Beach Gardens attorney who is representing the family. “This child died unnecessarily. It’s outrageous and frustrating.”
Her mother, Eulalia Gaspar, said Saturday she was glad Barnes was off the street, “but I know that’s not going to bring my daughter back.”
“I’ll never see her again. She is gone forever. But there are many other children like Priscila that need to be protected and as long as he’s jail, he is not going to be able to hurt any of them,” Gaspar said.
Gaspar said she still cannot understand why Barnes was allowed behind the wheel of a car.
Gaspar said she’s hoping to send Priscila’s body to her native Guatemala this week. A funeral was planned for Saturday but was postponed until today. The funeral will be private on the advice of her attorney, Gaspar said.
The Priscila Gaspar Trust Fund has been created for the family. Donations can be mailed to LaBovick’s office at:
Brian LaBovick, 5220 Hood Road (second floor), Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418.