CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) – Two elementary school brothers were hit by a car while walking to school Friday morning in Citrus Heights and an Orangevale woman involved in the crash was arrested for driving under the influence.
The accident happened just after 8 on Friday morning at Greenback Lane near Mariposa Avenue. According to police, two vehicles, a Chrysler 300 sedan and a Chevrolet Suburban, collided and the Chrysler spun into the young boys.
“It’s terrible. I don’t even know this family and it’s killing me,” concerned parent Sherry French, who rushed to the scene to see if it was her child hurt. “It wasn’t my son, thank God. I just couldn’t imagine.”
A 52-year-old woman driving the Chrysler was arrested for DUI. Citrus Heights police identified her as Tresa Bales-Sterba. Bales-Sterba was booked into the Sacramento County Jail on felony DUI.
“Our officers evaluated the driver of the Chrysler for suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol and we have made the arrest,” Citrus Heights police Detective Chad Morris said.
The woman’s grandson showed up to the scene and said he doesn’t believe the allegations.
“She’s on her way to work,” Mike Sterba said. “I don’t see a drunk person going to work, know what I mean?”
Sterba says he got to the scene 20 minutes after the crash.
“She was really, really, really shaken up,” he said. “I know she’s going through it really bad. I can imagine she feels real bad for the whole accident.”
Police say the two boys were in the crosswalk when they were hit. Their mother was with the boys but wasn’t injured. The boys were taken to Mercy San Juan with what are being described as major injuries and one was then air-lifted to UC Davis Medical Center.
The brothers, Juan Perez-Rocha, 8, and Henry Perez-Rocha, 6, attend Skycrest Elementary and are first- and third-graders, San Juan Unified School District spokesman Trent Allen said. The school is on 5641 Mariposa Ave., about a half-mile from Greenback.
Zandra Mardones, a nurse, rushed to help the boys after hearing the mother’s cries.
“I heard her say ‘My kids!’ in Spanish,” she said. “Then I saw the little bundle on the floor.”
In her pajamas, Zandra and her kids jumped into action to help a mother who just watched her little boys get hit by a car.
“I stayed with the older son and tried to see if he had any really severe injuries, make sure he wasn’t bleeding,” she said. “I put a T-shirt under him.”
But the 6-year-old suffered more serious injuries. He’s in critical condition.
“Not conscious from the time I saw him,” Zandra said. “I know he was bleeding. He had more head trauma than the older boy.”
Even as a nurse trained to deal with tragedy, Zandra said she was rattled by the experience.
“As a mom, you always think of it as your own,” she said.
Police closed down both directions of Greenback Lane between San Juan Avenue and Birdcage Street for almost seven hours after the accident.