A fundraiser is expected to be held for Carlie Rodriguez, who suffered critical injuries in a hit-and-run crash in Riverside. Tony Shin reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, 2013.
Carlie Rodriguez isn't taking baby steps in her recovery.
She's doing things that even surprise her parents, like putting a puzzle together.
"We ask her to identify which animal is on the puzzle and she's identifying the right one right away," said Carlie’s father, Aaron Rodriguez.
He can't believe it was just two and a half weeks ago that his little girl was critically injured in a hit-and-run crash on Magnolia Avenue near Nelson Street in Riverside.
Police arrested Ricardo Gamez, 20, of Oceanside, in connection with the crash. He faces charges of street racing, hit and run and giving a false report to police, prosecutors said.
The 5-year-old girl suffered a traumatic brain injury and snapped all the tendons in her neck.
There were moments when Carlie's parents didn’t think she'd make it.
"And now I just see the progress in her and it just gives me hope and joy you know?” her father said.
Carlie can't talk yet, but she understands what people are saying.
She's only in the beginning stages of her rehabilitation, one that has taken a financial toll on her parents and two older brothers.
Shannon Galasso doesn’t know the Rodriguez family, but that’s not stopping her from organizing a fundraising event this Friday for Carlie.
"It's just nice to know that your family and friends and even strangers you don't even know,” Carlie’s father said. “They're just good people out there and they have a heart for it."
Aaron said it'll take about a year before Carlie makes a full recovery.
A fundraiser to pay for her medical expenses is set for 6 p.m. Friday at Adams Motorsports, 5292 24th St., Riverside.
An account for Carlie has been set up to collect donations.
The family is asking for help paying for their daughter's rising medical bills. Donations can be made at any Altura Credit Union under the name Carlie Rodriguez Fund, account no. 2382125, routing no. 322281235.