By Jill Fox
After attending a bat mitzvah, a 14-year-old was hit by a car early Sunday morning.
Mariapaz Sandoval, an eighth grade student at Westglades Middle, was attending a bat mitzvah in Coral Springs at the Heron Bay Commons when around 2 a.m., while crossing Heron Bay Blvd with a friend, she was struck by a vehicle.
At the time of the accident, Mariapaz’s parents, Cesar and Paola, were in Ecuador with her younger brother, Emilio, visiting relatives for Mothers’ Day. Their daughter was staying at home with a close friend for the weekend in order to attend the event.
Cesar explained that after he received the call about his daughter’s accident, it took hours to receive any more information. Finally, he learned that she had been airlifted to Broward General Hospital.
“I spent hours not knowing if my daughter was alive,” he said.
Mariapaz is currently in a medically induced coma for 72 hours to see if the swelling in her brain decreases. Her pelvis is broken in two parts, and she will have surgery in the next day or so to stabilize the bones in the area.
A close friend of the family, Olga Seltzer, whose daughter, Victoria attended the bat mitzvah with Mariapaz said Cesar called her from overseas and asked her to go to the hospital.
“The girls are inseparable, said Seltzer. “They have been taking cheerleading and gymnastics together since they were little girls. “She is like a daughter to me.”
When she saw Mariapaz at the hospital it was shocking to her because the night before, the girls had looked so beautiful getting ready for the bat mitzvah. She felt like she had to do something, so she asked her daughter, Victoria to help her build a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Sandoval family’s hospital bills.
“Mariapaz is going to need a lot of recovery from the consequences of the accident, especially extra expenses from rehab,” said Cesar.
Since then, they have been overwhelmed by the support, both financially and emotionally. Donations have poured in to the two pages they have opened with comments from “Wishing for a speedy recovery!” to “#Give17for17,” raising over $8,000 in less than a day.
The driver of the car did not leave the scene and the Coral Springs Police Department is gathering information for their investigation, which could take a few days.
Cesar said, “No one knows if she’s going to wake up or not. That’s the reality right now.” We’re taking it one day at a time and crossing our fingers that she’s going to make it.”
To donate to the Sandoval family, visit GoFundMe.
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.