Police arrest driver involved in Riley Rawlins’ death

Police have arrested a teenager in the vehicular death of Lake Highlands High School student Riley Rawlins.

We told you several weeks ago about 17-year-old Rawlins and his family and friends’ frustrations that the no one was being held accountable for his senseless death.

Yesterday I spoke with Lt. Scott Bratcher in the traffic division at the Dallas Police Department. He said they were very close to making an arrest and, sure enough, police today arrested 18-year-old Soraya Villanueva. They charged her with criminally negligent homicide and are holding her on $125,000 bond.

Sponsored Message

Bratcher said yesterday that the arrest took so long because they wanted to make sure the proper charges were filed and that everything was in order to do so. That’s good, because no one wants this young woman, who admitted to flying through a yellow light at twice the posted speed limit and driving without a license or insurance, to get off on some technicality.

More from Christina Hughes Babb

Restaurant talk: Pizza picks

Picasso’s Pizza and Grill, a Lake Highlands favorite, won the WFAAList contest...
Read More
  • Anthony

      1st and most importantly, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected from the events of January 7th, 2012. May God bless you and give you the power to over come this tragic accident.
      I would like to start off by saying that we are all entitled to our opinion and I respect the previous people that have commented on this article. With that said, I have been very optimistic about this whole situation and the reason being is, I wanted to know how the public and the media would respond. And for the most part, have responded to my expectations. The media should be very ashamed of how they worded and reported this story. If you pay close attention to the numerous articles online, the reporters have given multiple ages to the young lady. Also certain factual information has been with-held. But, the media playing their part- lead people to believe everything they see and hear.
       Ms.Villanueva stated that she sped up to make the light because it had turned yellow. How many of us are guilty of that? Ive done it and numerous of my friends and family have done it as well. Is it right? NO, but many of us still do it because we are in such a hurry that we can’t wait a couple of minutes sitting at a red light. Ms. Villanueva was neglectful in that aspect.
       As children, we are taught to look both ways before crossing the street. Unfortunately, Mr. Rawlins failed to do so, consequently, a young life was taken from this earth. If the light was still yellow as Ms. Villanueva sped through, why was Riley in the middle of the street to begin with? Mr. Rawlins was neglectful in that aspect.
       According to the law, when both parties are negligent in a situation such as this one, its hard to prevent something like this from happening. Therefore, neither party is liable for the damages done. Numerous people questioned the DPD’s response time to apprehend Ms. Villanueva. “If we do indict it, it’s going to be a coin toss,” District Attorney
    Craig Watkins said last week. He said questions about the driver’s speed
    and whether Riley was jaywalking are complicating the case.”  *Dallas Observer*
       The lesson to be learned from this accident is PATIENCE. Both Ms. Villanueva and Mr. Rawlins could have taken those extra moments for their appropriate time to cross the street. I encourage everyone, spread this story and inform our friends and family that patience is a virtue. Never hesitate to tell the people you care about that you love them. Life is so precious and short and we are not guaranteed another day to be able to say those words.
        As a family friend, i know for a fact the young lady stopped, called 911, and stayed present with the emergency responce team as they tried to revive Mr. Riley Rawlins. She also cooperated with law enforcement 100% and volunteered the information that she didn’t have a license, insurance, and that she was speeding trying to cross before the light turned red. What the media failed to mention is that she is currently pregnant and has another little boy. A conviction to a case such as this sends a negative message to people that actually do the right thing and act accordingly. I really hope the Grand Jury realizes their responsibility to our community and society.

  • Kathablack

    No license and no insurance. Speeding and not calling 911. I have no compassion for this young woman….

  • Wilson!

    If the DA follows the law and charges her appropriately, she would be subject to less jail time because she stopped.  Failure to stop and render aid (“Hit and run”) in the case of an injury is a felony, and punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison (from what I can gather online).

    So, if Andrew Green’s killer is ever brought to justice, in addition to whatever charge they get from hitting Andrew, they will also face 2-to-10 for fleeing.

  • Melissa Hovey

    LHfan1 – 
    Im sorry. I incorrectly named you LH Parent. 

  • Melissa Hovey

    LH-Parent: I am shocked and horrified at the way you can simply dismiss what this woman did to an innocent person minding their own business. I gotta be honest and tell you – I don’t think she had any intention of stopping. She drove a total of 551 feet before stopping her vehicle – dragging Riley for 400 of those feet. That is longer than the length of a football field. She did not get out to “render aid” – in fact witnesses state she got out and her first words were, “Is he stoned or drunk?” There is also no proof she even called 911. We know the manager at Sonic made a call to 911 – but I have seen nothing that states Ms Villanueva called anyone but a friend for a ride home. 

    Yeah, she is traveling 70 miles and hour (minimum) in a 35 mile an hour zone, weaving around a stopped vehicle to blow through a light and the logical conclusion – the pedestrian was drunk. Are you even taking into account the emotional scaring this has had on the friends of Riley who witnessed this horrific scene?? I know kids now that are afraid to leave the house because they do not feel safe crossing the street. You may have sympathy for someone like Ms. Villanueva – but would you have the same compassion and lack of understanding if it was someone you loved? Heck no. You would be begging to have the book thrown at the person who did something this horrific to someone you loved.  But sadly, many wont understand why the lessons of this situation need to be learned until it happens to them or someone they love. I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain on anyone. I want to know when blaming the victim became okay with ANYONE??? Ms. Villanueva broke the law the second she climbed behind the wheel of that vehicle on that faithful day. This was her fault – no one elses, and as such, she should be willing to pay the price for HER actions. I have zero sympathy for anyone who thumbs their nose at laws designed to protect innocent people the way this woman did, especially when it causes the death of an innocent person – regardless of who they are. 

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying it could be anyone’s kid behind the wheel of that car. Well, it could be anyone’s kid – in front of that car too. You seem to be missing one very valid point, Ms. Villanueva had NO drivers license — this was the first law she broke and one I am positive you would never tell your children to break.  At least I would hope not. Had Ms. Villanueva obeyed the laws in the first place, she would not find herself in the situation she is today – with ZERO remorse for taking the life of a 17 year old. We are talking about a DEATH here not a broken bone!!!! 

    When we make excuses for criminal behavior – there is something very wrong. 

    Responsibility is the key component to becoming an adult. Apparently Ms. Villanueva has none of that. 

  • Agreed. But she still needs to have consequences for her negligence. I have told my children in excruciating detail about this incident, hoping that when they find themselves behind the wheel of a car, they understand what a tremendous responsibility it is. I’m not saying she needs to spend her life in prison or lose her child, but she does need to experience just punishment for the tragedy she caused. 

  • Ca0159k

    Some of you people make me sick that can sit here and justify and forgive her behavior. She’s an arrogant, unremorseful monster and I hope she suffers immensely. How can this “thing” (doesn’t deserve to be labeled human) be so cold & selfish to chalk this horrendous tragedy up to a “bump” in the road & request a TV for her prison cell. That’s right, she was concerned about a tv in her cell? She took away such a wonderful & caring human being by selfishly fulfilling her immediate needs and neglecting our traffic laws. No forgiveness, no symphathy…just suffering is all i wish for her…. Even that won’t even come close to the horror this boy’s family must live through because of Soraya Villanueva.

  • Anonymous

    While this young woman made a horrible mistake that resulted in the tragic death of a LH student, she should be subject to punishment for the crime but receive less punishment than the offenders of similar tragic events who choose to continue driving (as those did in the tragic hit and run death of Andrew Green back in the fall) rather than responsibly stop and admit to their crime.  Otherwise, it just incentivizes drivers to drive on rather than stop and render aid or admit to their error.

  • sadmom

    She also has a little boy…

  • Robinhomer

    You need to go look at this girls facebook page, she is no normal lake highland teenager. She recently posted how she would get out of this “bump” in the road and party on chiquitas see you at the club etc….does that sound remorseful?  She should get the maximum allowed by the law and be made to never forget Riley……

  • Outraged LH Citizen

    LH _Parent…yes, “this young woman” made a terrible mistake, but admitted on her own to the officers at the scene that her reason for not having a license is it was too expensive, and on top of that was not insured.  I beg to differ with you that this could have been any of our kids, because I know my children would not have been out driving without a license or insurance.  Her blatant disregard for the law, her careless/dangerous driving, and arrogance following her crime is inexcusable.  It was not “just an accident”….it was careless, blatant disregard for the privilege of driving a vehicle.  Yes, it was “terrible mistake” and it should haunt her for the rest of her life….while she’s behind bars serving time for the crime she committed.

  • LH_Parent

    Wait a minute, the tone of this blog post concerns me.  Although I have tremendous sympathy for the Rawlins family,   “this young woman” is a kid also.  She made a terrible mistake that will haunt her the rest of her life.  She is not any different than most kids in our neighborhood, regardless of whether they live in houses or apartments.  Let’s be honest.  All of our kids at some point drive to fast and fail to pay attention as they should.  They never expect anything like this could happen to them.    It’s a tragic accident, no doubt.  But that’s what it was–an accident.  Just thank god it wasn’t your kid behind the wheel.

  • Fulzgold

    Watkins seems to explain the delay a little differently than Lt. Bratcher — he questions the strength of his case against the driver — according to a quote from DMN.   http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2012/02/a_month_after_women_hit_dragge.php.