UPDATE 06/19/16: Nearly six months after being critically injured in head-on collision caused by an illegal alien, Giana Bartolucci has died on June 15 after a routine surgery to reattach a part of her skull.
She was still hospitalized and receiving therapy as part of her recovery process, her father explains in his blog.
Original story 04/16/16:
Father and daughter badly burned in crash caused by illegal alien, who had already been deported once before. Girl still in hospital.
It was Christmas eve, 2015, when Pastor Tony Bartolucci, 52 and his daughter Giana, 14, were almost killed in a fiery crash on Redman Road in Clarkson, New York, shortly after 6 p.m.
A 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe driven by Efrain Lopez-Contreras, 29, crossed the center line and hit the 1992 Ford Explorer the Bartoluccis were traveling in, causing it to burst into flames.
Neighbors in their homes nearby heard the crash and came rushing out, pulling Tony and his daughter from the burning vehicle. They said both victims were on fire. It took four men to get Tony out. They didn’t even realize another passenger was in the vehicle until they heard him say something about his daughter.
Giana was trapped in the burning vehicle, and rescuers had to cut her seatbelt to get her out. “It was pretty bad, it was really tragic,” said one witness.
While everyone was busy getting the victims out of the car, Lopez-Contreras tried to walk away. One of the rescuers said, “My brother saw him. He was mumbling something and then he started fleeing the scene. He was caught later on.” He was later found by deputies hiding in a ditch.
Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies said Lopez-Contreras was driving drunk. He is an undocumented immigrant who had been previously deported. The Sheriff’s Office said Lopez-Contreras is back in the country illegally and will be detained by immigration officials.
Lopez-Contreras was indicted by a Monroe County grand jury in January of the following charges: six counts of aggravated vehicular assault; two counts of second-degree assault; six counts of first-degree vehicular assault; aggravated driving while intoxicated; third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle; and operating a motor vehicle without a license. As of February 29, Lopez-Contreras was in the Monroe County Jail.
Both Giana and her father sustained significant injuries and multiple surgeries each. Tony Bartolucci was discharged from the hospital on Feb. 2.
According to a webpage about her recovery, maintained by her father, Giana was moved from Strong Memorial Hospital into a brain injury rehabilitation unit at Golisano Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation at Unity Hospital on Feb. 17. Her father said she is doing well in her therapy.
He said Giana has briefly been able to use her voice, has been able to maintain her blood oxygen levels with her tracheotomy covered, and has been able to follow verbal instructions by signaling with her eyes. She has also been able to move her right arm. On April 12, she was able to stand twice for the first time since her accident, for only 20 seconds at a time.
“We have a long way to go, but we are thankful for how far our Lord has carried us, May he continue,” said Tony Bartolucci in his post. He is the pastor of Clarkson Community Church. Giana Bartolucci sang with the Amadeus Chorale Youth Singers for seven years, and was planning to rejoin the group in January.
The Christmas Eve crash has Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini calling for immigration reform, questioning how Efrain Lopez-Contreras re-entered the country, how he got his hands on a vehicle and who was putting him up. Assini, a candidate for Congress in the 25th District, says too many illegal immigrants are taking up residence in the Monroe County area.
“Over 1,000 illegal immigration arrests occurred in 2008, those are the latest numbers I have. I spoke briefly with Border Patrol today and they have indicated that even though the number might be down a little bit it’s still in the hundreds. We are a hot spot for illegal immigration along the northern border,” said Assini.
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