Student hurt in crash talks, gets up

   STAFF WRITER kpearson@pe.com 
   Helen Richardson, the Hemet High student who was in a coma following a crash outside the school last month, has begun to walk and talk in small doses, her mother said Tuesday.

   Helen, 15, was the most seriously injured of eight students who were hit by a truck in a school crosswalk on May 30. The driver, 18-year-old 
Daniel Carrillo, has not been charged.

   Helen first spoke on Friday, said her mother, Trisha Telezinski. Doctors attempted to give her water to test her swallowing reflex and she muttered a “st” sound. Within an hour, she said “straw,” her mother said.

   “I was elated because she was making the connection,” Telezinski said Tuesday, June 12. “She knew what her needs were and she 
was verbalizing. She was putting two and two together.”

   Telezinski said doctors at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley made Helen get up on Saturday and use a walker, though her coordination is 
still a major issue. Telezinski said Helen was able to support her weight on her own, but one side of her body is clearly further along than the other.

   Helen sustained a diffuse axonal injury, where the connectors between 
white and gray matter in her brain are torn. The injury is not repairable, and patients typically have long-term issues that can range from small changes in personality to a permanent vegetative state, according to doctors and medical studies.

   It is far too early to tell what Helen’s prognosis could be, her mother said, but the past few days have offered cause for guarded optimism. 
   “It’s all a waiting game,” Telezinski said. “I’m so happy with her progress, but I’m just happy she’s back with me. However long it takes is fine with me.”

   Helen’s family has been raising funds for her medical care, and at a June 7 car wash, Carrillo, the driver, showed up and donated $100 and offer a sealed card for Helen and her family.

   According to the CHP, Carrillo 
had been driving faster than 50 mph and weaving through traffic when he ran a red light at the crosswalk. The CHP said last week it was recommending that the Riverside County district attorney’s office file charges against Carrillo. He has not been available for comment.

   Follow Kevin Pearson on Twitter @pe_kevinpearson or online at blog. pe.com/Hemet 
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