LOMA LINDA (CBSLA.com) — A 5-year-old hit-and-run victim was awake Tuesday, two weeks after the accident in April that nearly killed her.
Carlie Rodriguez was the only one hurt when her family’s car was broadsided by a black Mustang racing down the street in Riverside, just before 2 p.m. on April 22.
The Mustang slammed into the car at the exact spot where the 5-year-old was strapped into a booster seat. The force of impact caused injuries so severe that doctors put her in an induced coma.
Her father, Aaron Rodriguez, said the family car was hit at over 60 miles an hour and spun around, hitting a pole.
Doctors at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital said that though she has a long road ahead, the little girl’s recovery was nothing short of a miracle.
The 5-year-old suffered a list of traumatic injuries, including multiple brain injuries, a hairline fracture in her hip, and torn muscles and ligaments in her neck, among others. Her father said doctors had to perform surgery to fuse her neck back together with a metal plate. She spent the last two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit.
Though she is not yet able to speak, the 5-year-old’s eyes are open and she is using finger gestures to signal yes or no. She celebrated her fifth birthday in the hospital.
The Rodriguez family does not have health insurance and estimates the cost of Carlie’s care to be in the hundreds of thousands.
The family is hosting a fundraiser Friday night at Adams Motorsports Park in Riverside to raise money, and to encourage drivers to race on closed tracks and not the open road.
A 20-year-old Oceanside man was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run in the case.