Aaron Rodriguez was driving his wife and daughter to their Riverside home Monday afternoon when their sedan was broadsided by the driver of a stolen Ford Mustag. The driver ran away, leaving 4-year-old Carlie Rodriguez fighting for her life. Rodriguez says he ripped off his car door to get to his daughter, unconscious in her booster seat. Kim Baldonado reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on April 22, 2013.
A 4-year-old girl is still in the hospital Monday night after she was seriously hurt by a hit-and-run driver in Riverside earlier in the day.
"I wish it was me in there, instead of her," said Aaron Rodriguez, whose daughter Carlie has swelling in her brain and was listed in critical condition hours after her family's car was broadsided by the driver of a stolen car.
The crash happened shortly before 2 p.m. in the 6800 block of Magnolia Avenue, police said.
Driving home in the family's Chevy Malibu, Rodriguez – who was unharmed – was stopped at a stop sign on westbound Nelson Street at Magnolia Avenue waiting to turn right. The girl's mother was also in the car.
As the Malibu (pictured below) pulled into the street, it was broadsided by a Mustang.
Carlie, pictured at right, was sitting in a booster seat in the left rear passenger seat when she was struck, apparently taking the brunt of the impact, police said.
"My door didn't open so I crawled out the window. I look in the back, my daughter looks asleep. I tried to open her door. It wouldn't open so I ripped the door off," Rodriguez said.
Witnesses said the young girl, who is supposed to turn 5 years old Friday, appeared to be unconscious.
"He just grabbed the door; he bent the door back to get her out,” witness Kristiania Mauricio said of the girl’s father. “Hugging her so tight, just didn't want to let her go."
The driver of the Mustang stopped and checked on the Rodriguezes and their daughter before running away, leaving his car behind.
Police later learned the Mustang was stolen just before the crash from Madison and Evans streets.
An older orange car – possibly an Acura Integra or a Honda Prelude – may have been racing the Mustang before the crash. The driver of that car kept moving northbound on Magnolia Avenue.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Rick Prince at (951) 826-8722.