It all began on September 14, 2012

On that fateful evening my daughter Annette was run over by a drunk driver in a hit and run incident. That was the beginning of a harrowing journey through a parent’s nightmare. Harrowing not just because of what happened to my daughter, but also because of what my family and me have been forced to deal with since then.

Annette was crossing a major street on her way to McDonalds for an evening snack along with some friends and family. She was in a crosswalk and at least one car had stopped at the intersection to allow her to cross. A drunk driver impatiently swerved around the stopped car and barreled into my daughter. The sheriff’s deputies I spoke with informed me that she was hit at 45 miles per hour and was thrown 100 feet by the impact.

My understanding of the situation is that my daughter was not breathing or responding in any manner at the scene. She was dead. Fortunately for her there were nurses nearby, apparently buying coffee at a Starbucks on that very intersection, who were able to rush out and administer CPR immediately. This allowed doctors at the trauma center she was taken to to revive her and put her on a respirator, thus keeping her alive through the first night. She has been a coma since then, though at times she is responsive and can respond by using her left hand, opening her left eye, or sticking out her tongue.

There were several deputies meeting at that particular Starbucks on this particular evening who apparently witnessed the incident. The drunken driver was chased down and arrested a few minutes after the incident. Apparently, as the drunk driver was being arrested he admitted to striking my daughter and claimed he had to get away.

Part of the reason the drunken driver had to get away is that Annette was pushing a stroller at the time she was struck. My understanding is that the drunk driver spent the weekend in jail convinced he had run over a baby. Fortunately, this was not true. The baby who the stroller belonged to had been taken out of the stroller only moments before, due to a bout of fussiness. Though terrible, the incident was not as bad as it could have been.

Annette was walking with a young couple who are the parents of the baby, her aunt, and her little sister (who is not my daughter). I am sure they are all traumatized, but I have only brief contact with any of them since the incident. I cannot speak to the depth or nature of emotion or feelings for anyone else. I can say that I am devastated, and can only assume they are as well, perhaps more so for having witnessed the incident.

Thirty-two days have passed since that fateful evening. I am told by the doctors that attend to my daughter that it will be at least twelve to eighteen months before we know the full extent of my daughter’s injuries. What has happened thus far has been brutal and discouraging, with occasional glimpses of hope. I am attempting, in writing this blog, to reconcile all of my feelings and experiences so that I can understand and cope with what is happening to my daughter, my family, and me. With a bit of luck, perhaps I can help others as well.

About Leo

Leo Barrera Expert at dealing with conflict. Grim, determined, a little chaotic, a threat to good order. Veteran. Chicano. Husband. Father. Writer. Photographer. Gardener.
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