Sierra charged with manslaughter in ATV death of daughter

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Artemio Sierra has been charged with manslaughter regarding the July death of his daughter, Ximena.

Faces additional charges of aggravated assault, aggravated DUI and child abuse

By Jon Johnson

PIMA – A child riding around with their dad on an ATV should be fun, but for one Pima family it turned into a tragedy that continues to build.

Artemio Sierra, 34, of Pima, was officially charged with manslaughter Oct. 16 in relation to the death of his daughter, Ximena Sierra, 8. Artemio was arrested on a warrant Oct. 18 and his brother posted a $10,000 cash bond ordered from Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Judge Wyatt Palmer the very same day to release Artemio.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Artemio Sierra was released after posting a $10,000 bond issued by Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Judge Wyatt Palmer.

Judge Palmer said multiple factors came into play when deciding the amount of the bond, including the least onerous condition reasonable, if he is likely to appear and if it is believed Artemio poses a risk to others.

“This was his little girl, so he’s got nobody else to be mad at,” Palmer said. “There’s no real threat of anybody else being injured if he is released.”

“It looks like he is likely to appear, so there is a bond, but the least onerous condition reasonable is the statute.”

Ximena, 8, and her sister, Ludwyka Sierra, 9, were riding on the back of a Honda 400 ATV operated by Artemio just before 7:30 p.m. on July 23 when the vehicle hit a berm and the girls were thrown from the ATV. Artemio was allegedly operating the vehicle while intoxicated.

Ximena Sierra, 8, left, died at UMC on July 28 after being taken off life support. Her sister, Ludwyka, 9, responded well to treatment and has since been released from the hospital. Both girls were injured while riding on an ATV with their father, Artemio Sierra.

A blood test analysis from the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Crime Lab in Tucson listed Artemio’s blood/alcohol content at .09, which is just over the limit of .08 for a standard DUI charge.

Ximena died at Banner-University Medical Center on July 28 after being taken off life support due to no brain function.

Ludwyka responded well to treatment and was released from the hospital.

In addition to the manslaughter charge – a Class-2 felony and dangerous crime against a child – Artemio has also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault – Class-3 dangerous crimes against children – two counts of aggravated DUI – Class-6 felonies – and child abuse – a Class-3 felony. 

According to Artemio’s statements to authorities, the ATV was going at about 40 mph when it struck the berm. None of the occupants were wearing helmets as required.

Artemio said he found both his girls unconscious on the ground and bleeding. After managing to restart the ATV, he drove to his residence but the ATV stalled. He then left his daughter and ran home to retrieve his father’s vehicle, which he then used to transport his daughters to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC). They were then flown to UMC for treatment.

While at MGRMC, a deputy noticed Artemio showed signs of intoxication and he allegedly admitted to drinking “too many beers throughout the day to count.”

Artemio failed a brief sobriety field test and then his blood was taken for testing purposes and he was released.

Deputies later located the crash site behind a pump storage building in the 9000 block of U.S. Highway 70 roughly 200 yards north of the roadway. ATV tracks leading from a flat roadway into a small berm and ditch were located with several spots of blood on the ground.

Next up for Artemio will be an initial appearance followed by a preliminary hearing to see if there is enough evidence to proceed with the matter in Graham County Superior Court.