The mother of two girls pulled from a burning SUV in Stockton cried as she tried to thank her daughters' rescuers at UC Davis Medical Center Thursday night.
"If it wasn't for [the rescuers], I wouldn't have them. And I just want to say, 'thank you, and I'm glad that you were there,'" Lisa Juarez said.
Juarez was waiting for her daughter 10-year-old Maria to get out of surgery that would fix a broken a femur and put a pin in her ankle. She suffered serious internal injuries and was expected to remain in intensive care after the surgery.
Her other daughter 11-year-old Marisela is out of intensive care and recovering from a fractured collar bone and injuries from her seat belt.
Both her girls were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash, Juarez said.
"That's one thing, if they've never listened to me in their life, they listened to me to put their seatbelts on," Juarez said. "Maria would not have lived if she did not have that seat belt on."
Juarez said her eldest daughter was supposed to pick up her younger girls and did not know her son-in-law had stepped in for her. Andrew Lopez, 23, was driving the Jeep Cherokee at the intersection of Church and Lincoln in downtown Stockton when it suddenly veered off the road and into a light pole.
"Yes, he had been drinking," Juarez said. "And I did not know that he was to be picking up my girls until it was too late."
Lopez is facing charges of child endangerment and driving under the influence. Lopez is still in the hospital, recovering from injuries he suffered in the crash.
"Right now, I do not find it in my heart to forgive him," Juarez said. "I'm sorry, I won't," Juarez said.
Stockton police could not confirm whether road racing might have also been involved, as some witnesses suggested. Police did say both speed and alcohol played a part in the accident.