MORENO VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — A 15-year-old girl who was left in a coma after she was hit by a classmate’s pickup truck outside of Hemet High School last year was able to recover with the help of an unlikely hero.
Helen Richardson and seven others were walking in a crosswalk on Stetson Avenue around 2 p.m. on May 30, 2012, when 18-year-old Daniel Carrillo reportedly ran a red light and struck the students.
Trisha Telezinski, Helen’s mother, was devastated when she got the call that her daughter was among the victims and was being transported to Riverside County Regional Medical Center with severe head injuries.
“It was looking like the worst case scenario,” said Telezinski. “They were sedating her because they didn’t think she could breathe on her own.”
A few days after the accident, Helen still showed no signs of improvement.
Doctors were doubtful she would regain consciousness.
Telezinski, however, refused to believe otherwise.
“I knew she was gonna be okay. I just knew,” she said.
Telezinski decided to track down a robust Rottweiler she had seen roaming the hospital hallways and visiting patients.
She thought her daughter, who always loved animals, might benefit from the therapy dog named Rumor.
Lisa Medina, who is a part of the Inland Empire Pet Partners with Rumor, said, “A lot of people don’t really think of this breed as being a therapy dog.”
Turns out those people couldn’t have been more wrong.
Robin Manning, the hospital’s volunteer services manager, was there when Rumor was first brought into the Intensive Care Unit to see Helen.
“Lisa reached into the bed and picked up (Helen’s) hand and started to stroke Rumor’s paw. She would do that for a while and then she would put the hand back down,” she said.
Manning said they did that same process for nearly an hour, but nothing happened.
“I started to turn around and help Lisa take Rumor down from the chair. As we started to move Rumor this way with her paws off the side of the bed, we noticed Helen’s hand come up,” she said. “It was clenched, but she was shaking and reaching for the dog. Everybody screamed. We were all crying and yelling. We weren’t sure what we were witnessing.”
Helen simply stated, “Dogs are more comforting than people.”
The teenager, who suffered permanent brain damage, said she doesn’t remember the day of the accident, but reminds herself every day to thank those who helped her.
“They brought Rumor to me and it woke me up from a coma. They were gonna put a tube in my head. This was proof to them that they didn’t have to do that,” said Helen.
Every two weeks, Helen volunteers at the hospital and visits patients with Rumor.
“I have hope for other people that Rumor can help them in many different ways. She’s just a big ball of love….and hope,” said Helen.
KCAL9’s Suzie Suh said the teen’s recovery has been so remarkable, doctors are still uncertain about the long term effects.