5-year-old Car Crash Victim Has Long Recovery Ahead - KMSP-TV

5-year-old Car Crash Victim Has Long Recovery Ahead: How You Can Help

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Riverside, CA -

Dozens of family, friends and strangers turned out Friday night at Adams Motorsports Park to help raise money to cover the medical expenses of 5-year-old hit-and-run victim Carlie Rodriguez. Carlie was critically injured when the car she was riding in was broadsided by a stolen car racing down a Riverside street on April 22. 20-year-old Ricardo Gamez of Oceanside was arrested a week later and has pleaded not guilty to charges of street racing, leaving the scene of an accident, and giving a false report to police.

Carlie's recovery will be long and expensive. Her injuries were so severe – multiple brain injuries, torn muscles in her neck, fractured hip -- doctors had to put her into an induced coma. Now, nearly three weeks after the collision, Carlie is awake and out of intensive care. She is in a neck brace after surgery to insert a metal plate in her neck and doctors say she is in a lot of pain. Her father, Aaron Rodriguez, tells FOX 11 that Carlie is not yet speaking, but communicates with him and the rest of the family by gesturing with her finger. Mr. Rodriguez says when he asks if he can hug her, she signals ‘yes' and then she kisses him.

The Rodriguez family does not have medical insurance and the cost of extensive physical therapy, future surgeries and care is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Friday night's fundraiser was the first step toward helping the family cover the costs for Carlie's care. Members of the church the Rodriguez family's church donated food to the event. Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm also donated tickets for the racing event. The family said it held the fundraiser at Adams Motorsports Park to encourage drivers to race on closed tracks, not on the street.

If you are interested in helping the family, you can contribute to the Carlie Rodriguez Fund at Altura Credit Union in Riverside County. For a list of branch locations, and more details, visit www.alturacu.com. You can also contribute by phone at 888-883-7228.

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