The San Diego man who released his son from his seatbelt seconds after a traffic collision, causing him fatal injuries, said he was in a state of shock when he walked away from the scene.
On the night of June 2, 2013, Angelo Fabiani’s son was hanging out of the window of the family’s Nissan Titan teetering on the edge of a retaining wall.
The truck had veered off Interstate 5 and crashed on its side along the highway embankment near Old Town.
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Fabiani made the decision to cut his 4-year-old son’s seatbelt with a tool from the back of the truck. As a result, little Valentino fell 10 feet onto the concrete below.
“When he hit the ground it was nothing like I ever heard before,” Fabiani said. He recalled hearing women shrieking at the same time. “That’s not a sound like I’ve ever heard.”
“I just knew there was no coming back from this,” he said.
Fabiani walked away from the wreckage because, he said he just couldn’t bring himself to see his son like that. He described walking 19 miles to Imperial Beach and sitting alone near the water at a place where he would often play with his son.
On Wednesday, Fabiani and his attorney Allen Bloom spoke to NBC 7 in an exclusive interview about the crash and the trial that’s about to start in a few weeks.
Fabiani faces two to three years in prison if he's convicted of the charges of child endangerment and walking away from an injury crash.
Fabiani said he and Valentino spent the day at Mission Beach building sandcastles and playing in the water.
That perfect day soon turned into a nightmare when Fabiani lost control of his truck near the I-5 and I-8 interchange.
“I blacked out or was knocked out. The next thing I remember I was outside my truck standing below the retaining wall looking up,” Fabiani recalled.
He recalls seeing his son’s head and arm sticking out of the truck window.
“I just saw a lot of blood coming out. Immediately, I just had to get to my son,” he said.
“I knew the amount of blood that was coming out of the window wasn’t going to be just a scrape from the park. I knew that was really bad. So I had to get to him was all I was thinking,” he said.
He tried to climb the wall but when he couldn’t reach him, he climbed over a fence and crawled into the back of the truck.
Fabiani says he broke a window and tried to unbuckle Valentino's seatbelt to get him out.
Once he released the boy and the child fell, Fabiani said he reached for his son.
“All I could see was my hand just inches from his foot. I knew right then every dream I had for my son… places that we wanted to take him, you know all the plans we thought we were going to have for him, you know they were gone.”
Valentino was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital, where he died a week later from a head injury.
CHP investigators arrested Fabiani in Imperial Beach two days after the crash.
According to CHP officials, he took off running immediately following the crash, but then returned to the scene to unbuckle the child from the vehicle. Alcohol didn't play a part in the accident, officials said.
Bloom said Fabiani was in a state shock and wasn't in his right mind.
“The brain simply shuts down. As the psychologist told me, like a computer, it’s frozen,” Bloom said.
Bloom said the DA is basing the endangerment charged on the fact that Fabiani didn’t wait for the ambulance.
Also, Bloom claims, it was an injury from striking a palm tree during the crash, not from the fall to the concrete that likely caused Valentino's death.
Fabiani said he doesn't feel he's to blame for trying to save his son. Intead, he said he feels guilt because his son was in his care when he was fatally injured.
The case goes to trial at the end of September.