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1 year after LA trash truck killed man, his grieving mom still looks for answers

Every week for the last year, Sara Toral visits a memorial filled with flowers and photos of her late son, David Soto-Toral, who was run over and killed exactly a year ago in a Sherman Oaks alley by an LA city sanitation truck. 

“I miss my son each and every day,” Sara Toral told the I-Team. “Every day is a struggle, but I force myself to go on.”

She says for a year, the city of LA has stonewalled her, refusing to allow the trash truck driver to answer questions about the accident in a sworn deposition. Toral alleges the city even failed to turn over basic training manuals and safety procedures for sanitation truck drivers. 

“I believe I’m entitled to know everything about that day,” Toral said. “I’m entitled to get answers, and for whatever reason, the city is holding back.”

On a chilly morning on Jan. 25, 2023, eyewitnesses told the I-Team that 35-year-old David Soto-Toral sat wrapped in blankets on the ground of an alley behind an apartment building near Burbank Boulevard and Noble Avenue in Sherman Oaks. His mother says he had been struggling with addiction to painkillers since a series of bad skateboarding accidents, and he was coming down from a drug episode that morning.

“We could clearly see that it’s a person … keeping warm with blankets around him,” two neighbors who asked not to be named told the I-Team.

In March 2023. Sara Toral filed a wrongful death claim against the city of LA, which it denied. Three months later, the grieving mom filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the trash truck driver.

According to Toral and her attorney, cameras mounted on the garbage truck — and provided to the I-Team — show the driver backed right over David, killing him.

“The accident left my son unrecognizable. I wasn’t even able to bury him in an open casket,” Sara Toral said.

Toral’s attorney Bob Brennan told the I-Team he’s been trying to take a deposition from the driver to find out how and why he backed over David Soto-Toral, but the City Attorney’s office has said the driver “will not answer questions in deposition … There is an active criminal investigation.”

That explanation conflicts with what the LAPD, which investigated the accident and the driver, has told the I-Team for almost a year.

In February 2023, the LAPD told the I-Team, the “driver (City Employee) was interviewed by detectives … There are no criminal charges anticipated.”

This week, the LAPD told the I-Team it “does not have an ongoing investigation” into the accident.

“We’ve been waiting months to try to get his [the driver’s] deposition to try to get answers about what happened that morning,” Toral’s attorney said. “Right now, basically, the city is giving us nothing about what has happened that morning. For them to give us no information whatsoever is unreasonable.”

Sara Toral says she’s willing to go to trial with the city, if that’s what it takes to find out what really happened in that Sherman Oaks alley the morning of Jan. 25, 2023.

“I want why this accident happened. I want to know it all. I believe that’s what’s I need to begin to somehow heal,” Toral said.

The I-Team asked the City Attorney’s office to speak about the case, but it declined via email, saying it doesn’t “comment on pending litigation.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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