The Peninsula community is coming together to support a Redwood City family critically injured in a DUI collision in Sonoma County by launching a GoFundMe fundraiser to help alleviate their medical expenses and also a Change.org petition calling for justice.
The efforts stem from a chain-reaction accident that occurred on northbound Highway 101 in Rohnert Park Sat., April 10, when five members of the Palencia-Valesquez family—Ivone, Manuel, Paola, Lourdes and Kathy—were severely injured when a Chevrolet Silverado pickup rear-ended their car while they were stopped in traffic.
According to close family friend Mia Manamea, the Sonoma County District Attorney has charged Agustin DeLaRiva, age 29, with 13 charges, including felony DUI causing great bodily injury, felony stolen vehicle, felony hit and run, causing great bodily injury while in the commission of a felony, prior DUI enhancement, driving on a suspended revoked license, operating a vehicle without a breath alcohol ignition interlock device and possession of eight pounds of cannabis.
Manamea organized the GoFundMe, which seeks to raise $150,000 toward the family’s medical expenses. As of this writing, the fundraiser currently stands at $132,230.
According to Manamea, “four of the survivors were sent to local hospitals, whilst one required a helicopter transfer to Stanford hospital for emergency resuscitation. My best friend went straight into surgery upon arrival, and awaits a second surgery in the coming days (if not hours).”
On the Change.org page, which Manamea established along with Johanna Rasmussen, she provided this update on the family’s medical status: “Mother Lourdes Valesquez was airlifted to Stanford hospital with life-threatening brain injuries that remain unchanged. Two of her children remain in ICU in Santa Rosa. Daughter Ivone Palencia has already undergone three surgeries and her son Manuel Palencia remains in a medically induced coma. Daughter Paola who also suffered major injuries in the crash, has been released from the hospital.”
The change.org petition asks for people to support DeLaRiva’s bail to be increased due to the serious injuries he is suspected of causing to the Palencia-Valesquez family and to reflect the danger he poses to the safety of people in Sonoma County and nearby communities.
According to the petition page, DeLaRiva’s next court date is scheduled for Wed., May 26 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 9. People are encouraged by Manamea and Rasmussen to attend the virtual hearing via the Sonoma County Superior Court liveaudiostream on YouTube.
With a goal of 2,500 signatures, currently 1,832 people have signed the Change.org petition, which is directed to the Sonoma County Superior Court judge, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill R. Ravitch and Director of Victim Services Gloria Eurotas.
Photo of the Palenica-Valesquez family courtesy of Mia Manamena