By Dave Schwab
Fathers of a boy and girl who were among three teens seriously injured after being struck by a suspected drunk driver in front of Cass Street Cafe in Bird Rock last weekend said their children are recovering but added it will be a long convalescence.
One parent, Santiago Aguerre, offered a stern message about the need for the community to come together to discuss how to prevent something similar from ever happening again.
"We're looking good - there's not going to be any brain damage or severe spine damage," said Santiago Aguerre of the condition of his 13-year-old daughter Alani.
She and friends Myles Polger and Ian Brininstool, were walking on the sidewalk near the cafe Sunday about 7 p.m. when they were struck by a car careening out of control through the nearby roundabout.
"She wasn't stable enough to do her (broken) hip but they're in surgery doing her (broken) arm," he said Tuesday afternoon.
Aguirre said Alani was "listening to us" and "showing signs that she knows what's going on."
Lorne Polger said Wednesday morning that his son Myles had a second surgery Tuesday for compartment syndrome on his leg and will have a third procedure this Friday.
"He had a real tough night, but is in better shape this morning," Lorne Polger wrote in an e-mail. "We are hoping to get him home by the middle of next week. It will be a long recovery, but the prognosis is good. We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers."
Santiago Aguerre also expressed thanks to the community for an outpouring of goodwill since the incident.
"We have received hundreds of text messages and e-mails from people wishing her the best and offering their prayers," he said. "We are very thankful, very happy, to know the community is really thinking about her."
An e-mail from an ad hoc group identified as Bird Rock Against Drunk Drivers (B-RADD) is asking supporters to and sign three poster-sized cards for each of the injured teens. Anyone interested in bringing in additional cards and gifts for the victims is encouraged to do so, the e-mail said.
Another group is planning a gathering at the cafe on at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Aguerre said, while remaining positive, that he wants to do whatever is necessary to ensure his daughter's sacrifice was not in vain. Pointing to increasing problems with vagrancy and substance abuse in the neighborhood, Aguerre said, "We should definitely work together with the community to air this issue which has been left alone for too many years."
He said ticketing repeat substance-abuse offenders isn't good enough.
"You've got to take cars away," Aguerre said. "I hope my daughter Alani's ordeal brings awareness to everybody that there's no safe place to be. If the new Bird Rock (traffic-calming) roundabouts are not a safe place to be, than where is there a safe place to be?"
Noting allowing substance abusers to get behind the wheel of a car is "playing Russian roulette," Aguerre added the problem "is right in front of our eyes" and it's resolution is just "being willing to fix this matter."