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Mom clings to hope for driver's capture

Gloria Guillen is very grateful her young son survived a brush with death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver but sad and angry he has had to endure pain and disfigurement in the accident.

The 36-year-old Planada woman brought 20-month-old Daniel home from the University of California, Davis, Medical Center this week. The toddler was airlifted there in critical condition after the 7:05 p.m. accident Aug. 30 on Fremont Street in Planada.

"I am angry at the man but a bit more sad on how my son is now. I want the man who ran over my baby to be caught," Guillen said, adding she cries all the time when considering what took place.

California Highway Patrol Officer Luis Lara said it's believed the driver of the white pickup that ran over the Guillen stroller holding Daniel and dragged it 200 feet that night lives in the Planada area.

Guillen thinks the hit-and-run suspect's family is trying to hide him and she has heard rumors he's in the area. She said a lot of people have told her they know who the man is but don't have his name or license number of the truck.

Daniel had his right arm amputated four inches below the shoulder and has a broken hip and broken ribs. His mother said she has to give him medication for the pain every day and her son will be fitted for a prosthetic arm. It saddens her to think how her son will have to live with the loss of his arm.

People in the Planada community have been very supportive, bringing food to the family, Guillen said, and many people want to see the man caught.

Lara said he has been working on the case every day. So far about 15 tips have been received. About 1,000 fliers bearing an artist's sketch of the hit-and-run suspect have been circulated around Planada and Merced. A Sacramento Police Department forensic artist prepared the sketch after meeting with Guillen at the hospital where she kept vigil with her son.

People all over town have been eager to help post fliers without being asked, Lara said.

"It's sad to see this kind of accident; I hope someone turns him in. We've been getting great help. Someone knows who this guy is. We just need an I.D.," Lara said.

The officer said he has been hearing rumors the driver is still in town and his truck is hidden somewhere. It's believed to be a white full-sized pickup, but it's unknown what year or make it is or whether it's a regular or extended-cab pickup.

The driver is being sought on felony hit-and-run charges, and there are witnesses who can identify him in a lineup. Guillen made eye contact with the driver as he passed by her and her 8-year-old son Fernando that Thursday night, Lara said.

Officer Shane Ferriera, CHP public affairs officer, hopes the hit-and-run driver can be apprehended.

"For the family, it's terrible somebody so young has to suffer such an injury. There's a lot of legwork on a followup. I wish we had a little bit more information," Ferriera said.

Those with information about the accident can call the CHP at 209-356-2900 or 209-356-2956.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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