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8-year-old girl dies in car accident; bystanders rush to aid family

8-year-old girl dies in car accident; bystanders rush to aid family

8-year-old Jacqueline Sanchez-Lucatero died in a car accident on Hwy. 99 on Saturday.


POSTED September 1, 2009 10:40 p.m.
A tire blow-out caused a traffic accident on Highway 99 Saturday afternoon that claimed the life of an 8-year-old Turlock girl.
The deceased child was identified as Jacqueline Sanchez-Lucatero.
The child’s mother, Amalia Perez, 35, and her brother, Arnulfo Sanchez, 17, both had minor injuries and were treated at Memorial Medical Center and Doctors Medical Center, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The accident happened just before 5:30 p.m. Saturday on southbound Highway 99, just north of the Keyes Avenue exit.
Perez was driving a 1999 Ford Explorer in the right lane when the vehicle started to shudder.
The left rear tire suddenly blew out and Perez hit the brakes. The vehicle jerked to the right and Perez lost control of the Ford, according to the CHP’s report.
The Ford went off the highway and overturned down a slight embankment, coming to rest on its side.
Jacqueline was ejected during the rollover. The CHP report stated the accident investigators did not believe the 8-year-old was wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck.
Visalia resident Joe Guerrero was traveling on 99 with his wife and kids and saw the accident happen in front of him.
“It was an ugly site,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said the son was able to free himself, but that Perez was hanging in the driver’s seat by her seat belt and that her foot was partially pinned under the Ford. Guerrero was joined by others who stopped to help and 10 people were able to lift the Ford up and free Perez’s foot, he said.
By this point, Guerrero said they could smell gasoline and were worried the vehicle could ignite with Perez still inside it. Guerrero said he got a knife from someone and crawled into the Ford and cut her seat belt and helped pull her to safety.
Guerrero said he saw the little girl laying in the grass outside the vehicle.
“We didn’t want to move her too much because we weren’t sure of her injuries,” Guerrero said. “We were talking and praying with her and I was holding her hand, just trying to comfort her until the paramedics arrived. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Jacqueline was rushed to Memorial Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
“We were all praying for a miracle,” Guerrero said. “It was a tremendous and valiant effort by everyone that, unfortunately, did not have a good ending.”
The CHP said alcohol was not a factor in the collision.
Saturday’s wreck was the second in the area in the last two weeks to have claimed the life of a child. On Aug. 20, 4-year-old Joseph Chapman of Oakdale died from injuries sustained in a two vehicle crash in Denair. In that collision the CHP said the child was not restrained in a child safety seat appropriate for his age.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for young children. In 2006, the latest year statistics are available, there were 1,794 children from infants to 14 year olds killed in passenger vehicle crashes. Of those fatalities, 45 percent were unrestrained, according to the NHTSA.
Jacqueline’s mother is a housekeeper at the Holiday Inn Express. The hotel is holding a car wash and yard sale in their parking lot from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 3001 Hotel Dr. All the proceeds will go towards funeral expenses.
The funeral service for Jacqueline is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Turlock Funeral Home.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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