San Diego

Newborn in Critical Condition After El Cajon Crash

A grandmother was driving her daughter-in-law and her kids to the hospital when they were hit

Three women, a toddler and an infant were hospitalized Friday with serious injuries after their minivan was struck by a car going freeway speeds in downtown El Cajon, witnesses told police.

Ruth Ochoa, 39, was taking her daughter-in-law Denise Reyes and her two children to the airport at about 10:30 a.m. so they could take a plane to Guadalajara, Mexico, Ochoa's husband Mike Wanser told NBC 7.

Meanwhile, a woman, described by police as in her 60s, was driving a Lexus along Main Street when her car hit a curb, struck a utility pole, a street sign and a traffic light before going through the intersection against a red light, police said.

The posted speed limit in the area is 35 mph, but a witness said the Lexus was going about 80 mph.

The Lexus struck the dark red Nissan Quest minivan, carrying Ochoa and the Reyes, as it entered the intersection of N. Marshall Avenue and West Main Street. Both cars came to rest just a few feet from a vehicle posted for sale at a Mossy Nissan auto dealership.

Ochoa was rushed to the hospital and is now in critical condition with serious brain injuries, her husband said.

Reyes suffered moderate injuries. Her sons, 3-year-old Jacob and 1-week-old Ryan, were both hurt. Jacob suffered a broken nose and cuts to his face, but his injuries, as of Friday night, were not life-threatening.

Ryan, however, who was born just last week, suffered a skull fracture and was in critical condition Friday night, holding on for life.

"Pray, pray, pray that my family stays alive," said Ochoa's husband Mike Wanser, beside himself with grief. "That's what I want. If my family dies, I die. It's done. It's over. My family means the world to me." 

The driver of the Lexus, who has not been identified, suffered serious injuries as well, but officials say she is in stable condition.

He said Ochoa has shown some improvements since she was brought to the hospital Friday morning. She suffered serious head trauma but was responsive Friday night, able to use her hands.

"That makes me very hopeful that my wife is a strong woman and she will pull through. Yes, she will pull through," said Wanser.

At the scene, crews spent most of the day trying to fix the traffic light pole sheered in the crash. Pieces of timber were on the ground surrounding the utility pole about a half a block from the wreckage.

One shaken eyewitness, Chris Pearson, was stopped at the intersection and saw it all happen right in front of him.

"After she hit the pole, she was still going about 80 when she hit the pole, and she knocked the metal pole down. And then did this to the van, so she had to have been speeding," he said.

It is not known if the driver had some sort of medical emergency before the crash.

The father of the injured children, Brian Reyes, is currently in Mexico. Efforts are underway by the family and Sharp hospital to get Reyes to San Diego as soon as possible to be with his family.

On Saturday, NBC 7 spoke briefly with Mark Wasner at the hospital.

He said Reyes was doing much better, and the family had raised enough money to bring her husband to San Diego. He said the family is asking for privacy during this difficult time, and had no further comment.

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