The bicyclist who came upon the scene of Friday’s fatal collision involving an SUV that struck a nanny pushing a toddler in a stroller spoke exclusively to NBC 7 about the horrific accident.
According to officials, 41-year-old nanny Monserrat Mendez was pushing a stroller carrying a 14-month-old boy at Camino Del Sur and Via Verrazzano in the Santaluz community near Rancho Santa Fe around noon Friday when an SUV plowed into the pair.
Mendez sustained critical injuries and later died at the hospital. The toddler suffered serious injuries and remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Rady Children’s Hospital.
On Saturday, the female bicyclist, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to NBC 7. She described the chilling scene she stumbled upon while riding her bike in the Santaluz neighborhood that day.
When she arrived at the scene of the accident, the bicyclist said she saw the injured toddler dangling from the straps of his stroller. The stroller, she said, was wedged tightly under the bumper of the SUV.
The cyclist said she moved quickly to prevent any further harm to the boy.
She also said she felt the nanny’s pulse, but found nothing. She then took the little boy out of the stroller, away from the SUV because she feared the vehicle might explode.
At the scene that day, witness Iraj Karimi told NBC 7 she had seen the female bicyclist pull the toddler out from the stroller underneath the SUV.
Two days after the frightening, fatal crash, police are still investigating.
According to a report released late Friday night by the Medical Examiner’s office, the female driver of the SUV ran a red light before striking Mendez and the boy at the intersection.
Police have also said the driver ran a red light. The impact, officials said, dragged the nanny and toddler from one crosswalk to the next.
NBC 7 also learned the driver of the SUV may be a new mother herself. A man believed to be her husband told NBC 7 Friday the woman was in no shape to comment on the crash, adding, “We have a one-day old.”
The driver, whose name has not yet been released, is said to be cooperating with police and has not been charged in the fatal collision.
Meanwhile, the parents of the seriously injured toddler have been updating NBC 7 on the boy's condition. His mother says he remains in Intensive Care with a with a fractured femur, a pelvic fracture, a broken rib and a skull fracture. He also has a shattered spleen and may need surgery.
The boy's parents issued a statement exclusively to NBC 7 Saturday night.
The statement said:
“We are devastated by the loss of our nanny. She was a wonderful woman and we truly believe that she saved our baby's life. Our love goes out to her family and everyone in the community who are supporting us during this difficult time.”
On Sunday evening, the boy's parents said he has been weaned off heavy pain medication and his test results showed no bleeding, swelling or tearing in his brain. The positive signs came after a "touch and go" first few days in the hospital, with uncertainty over the potential injuries and trauma as a result of the impact.
His arm is in a cast, and doctors may soon be putting a cast on his broken leg as well. All the other injuries -- fractured pelvis and skull and broken ribs -- will heal with time and physical therapy, his parents said.
He is expected to remain in the ICU another five days due to the nature of his spleen injury. His parents hope after that, he will return home to complete his recovery.
His parents said the nanny was their son's best friend, and treated their son as her own.
"She is a hero in our eyes and we are forever grateful to her for saving [our son] in this horrific event," they wrote.
Mendez leaves behind two children of her own.
On Saturday night, flowers were placed at the intersection where the nanny was fatally hit as part of a makeshift memorial – a tribute to a woman who lost her life while caring for another.