The driver involved in a Turlock intersection collision that left two children with critical injuries turned himself in to the Turlock Police Department on Monday.
An arrest warrant was issued in September for Delhi resident Jorge Tello, 22, for his involvement in the March 29 traffic collision at the intersection of N. Golden State Boulevard and E. Hawkeye Avenue/Fulkerth Road which left a 13-month-old girl and 4-year-old girl with life-threatening injuries.
On Monday, Tello turned himself in to Turlock Police Department. He was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on one felony charge of reckless driving causing great bodily injury and one misdemeanor charge of reckless driving causing injury.
Around noon on March 29, Shawnta Lynnell was driving her Volvo with her daughters — Genevieve, 4, and Gia, 13 months — when they collided with an Acura, driven by Tello, at the intersection of Golden State Boulevard and Fulkerth Road/Hawkeye Avenue.
The Turlock Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team classified the incident as a criminal investigation after reviewing video footage from the vantage point of the businesses near the intersection. The video shows the Acura traveling at a high rate of speed and broadsiding the Volvo that was making a left turn onto Golden State Boulevard. The Volvo spun several times before striking a Toyota pickup stopped for the red light at Golden State Boulevard.
Both girls were in child safety seats, but still sustained serious injuries that necessitated the use of two Medi-Flight helicopters. One young girl was flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and the second was transported by air to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. Genevieve sustained a permanent spinal cord injury and Gia sustained a head injury from the crash. Lynnell was also injured in the crash, but was released from the hospital.
Sargis Mirza, 65, was driving the Toyota pickup and he was not injured in the crash.
In May, Turlock Police Officer Paul Heppner was presented with the Medal of Meritorious Service for his life-saving actions at the scene of the collision.
Heppner was the first officer on scene. Genevieve had been removed from her car seat by passersby who stopped to help. The 4-year-old had no pulse when Heppner got to her side and he started CPR.
“There was a lot of panic,” Heppner said when recalling that day at the awards ceremony. “The mom was right behind me and there was a lot going through my head, but like they say, your training kicks in. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. It worked. I remember the AMR guy holding up his thumb when we got a pulse.”
Heppner said he was honored and humbled with the recognition and said his actions would have been done by any of his fellow officers.