A Santee teenager describes the terrifying moments after he collided with another driver while riding his dirt bike in the desert over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“For a second, I actually thought I was going to die,” Jake Cabral told NBC 7 Tuesday.
The 15-year-old won't be able to walk for at least two months due to injuries he suffered Friday in a collision with another off-road vehicle in Imperial County.
Cabral never saw what crashed right into him as he rode his dirt bike down the sand drag out in Gordon Wells.
“Literally within blinking time, my eyes are shut and I feel myself flying through the air,” Cabral said.
Paramedics airlifted the teenager to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital because it was the closest hospital to the crash site. He's been there for five days recovering from four broken ribs, a cracked pelvis, a ruptured spleen and fractures in his lower spine.
“I was on the ground and 5 seconds later I see my uncle. He was telling me to keep my eyes open and just keep breathing. I was in so much pain,” she said.
The teenager’s parents live in Lakeside and Santee. The desert trip with relatives is an annual Thanksgiving tradition.
“When he screams, and I see him cry, it's hard not to feel the pain as well,” father Richard Cabral said.
While the family is helping Cabral with what is likely going to be a long recovery, his oldest sister, Nicole, has been working to figure out who did this to her brother.
The driver of the dune buggy that struck Cabral did not stop. Nicole Cabral posted a photo on Facebook of the damaged dune buggy which the driver apparently abandoned.
She has since received dozens of comments from people including from one Facebook user who was out there and captured what is believed to be an image of a woman driving the dune buggy.
NBC 7 is not revealing the woman’s face because she hasn't been named a suspect in the investigation.
“I'm really angry and I just want justice for Jake. I want this to be a lesson to people,” Nicole Cabral said.
Cabral, who has been riding on his dirt bike since he was 7, said the collision occurred as he was going down the drag, quite a distance from all the campsites.
The area of desert where the crash occurred is under the Bureau of Land Management.
BLM spokesperson Steven Razo said officials are looking for witnesses to the collision. They have not determined if the collision was the result of a driver who was under the influence or if this as a hit-and-run collision.
A GoFundMe page has been created to assist the family with medical costs.