Girl, 5, Critically Hurt in Riverside Hit-and-Run Is Improving, Father Says

Carlie Rodriguez turned 5 years old four days after being hospitalized with swelling her brain connected to the crash

By Tony Shin and Samantha Tata
|  Monday, Apr 29, 2013  |  Updated 6:06 AM PDT
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Critically Hurt in Hit and Run, 5-Year-Old Improving

Carlie Rodriguez is recovering after she was critically hurt in a hit-and-run crash in Riverside on April 22, 2013, four days before her fifth birthday.

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A 5-year-old girl critically injured after a hit-and-run driver slammed into her family’s car is getting better, her father told NBC4 on Sunday.

“We are praying for her every day,” Aaron Rodriguez said. “I hope others are, too.”

Rodriguez and his wife never leave their daughter Carlie’s bedside. The young girl has been in the hospital since April 22, when the driver of a speeding Ford Mustang collided with the Chevy Malibu being driven by her father. Carlie’s mother was also in the car at the time of the crash; neither parent was hurt.

Carlie was set to be taken off a ventilator Sunday, and next Saturday she is supposed to have the tube withdrawn from her head, which is helping drain blood and ease swelling in her brain.

Carlie turned 5 years old on April 26, a day after police arrested a 20-year-old man from Oceanside in connection with the crash. Ricardo Gamez is accused of colliding with the family then running away from the scene near Magnolia Avenue and Nelson Street in Riverside.

Investigators originally believed the driver of the Mustang may have been racing another motorist before the crash, but said there is no further evidence to support that and they are no longer looking for the driver of a red or orange two-door coupe seen driving next to the Mustang moments before the collision.

The Mustang was reported stolen soon after the crash, but investigators determined that was a false report meant to conceal the driver's identity.

Gamez faces one count of felony hit and run, police said. Additional charges are pending against those involved in falsely reporting the Mustang stolen.

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