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Officer checks on girl injured in hit-and-run
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With a police uniformed bear in hand, School Resource Police Officer Sam Gallego visited Nikka Perez in her Manteca home. The Lincoln Elementary School 11-year-old sixth grader is recovering from injuries sustained when run down in a Yosemite Avenue crosswalk by a hit and run driver some three weeks ago. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Nikka Perez is finally resting at home after being struck by a hit and run driver Sept. 17 while using a crosswalk in the 700 block of East Yosemite Avenue.

Manteca Police Officer Sam Gallego stopped by her home during the noon hour on Tuesday to present her with a small Teddy bear dressed in a black police uniform along with a special greeting card.

 Nikka said the best part of her memory about being hit by the speeding pickup truck was her ride in the helicopter with the flight nurse – the worst, being hit by the truck.  She demonstrated her pain tolerance when she declined pain medications until her mother arrived by her bedside.

Another positive was seeing her teacher, Paul Hayashi, unexpectedly walk through the door of her room at the UC Medical Center in Sacramento.  He had asked her to call him when she got home so that he could keep her up to date on her lessons, she said.

Nikka’s message to other students is to really look both ways before crossing the street and don’t use cell phones when walking to school and home.  Officer Gallego added that he has seen kids step right off the curb while looking down at their cell phones, unaware of the actual dangers facing them.

Gallego said he had stopped a driver for speeding in front of Lincoln Elementary School recently while he was conducting radar surveillance out the front and the rear of his patrol car.  

“She told me she didn’t know there was a school there, doing 60 miles an hour in a 25 mile zone.  If she didn’t know there was a school, she probably didn’t know there was a crosswalk,” he added.

The officer also noted the dangers that face the students at Manteca High School who use their crosswalks without concern for oncoming traffic – looking down at their phones and texting as they cross Yosemite Avenue.

The officer invited Nikka to join the Manteca Police Explorer Unit when she turns 14.

Nikka and her mother Rosalie returned to the orthopedic center at U.C. Davis on Monday to have her right leg checked for its healing.  A section of her leg that lost some three by five inches of skin is being watched by doctors for its healing properties before determining whether a skin graft is necessary, her mother said.

Two members of Calvary Community Church are fresh in the girl’s memory.  They had walked over to the ambulance that was waiting for the helicopter to arrive on the church lawn and asked if they could pray with her and her mother before she was flown to U.C. Davis.  Nikka wishes she had the prayer shawl she had been given by church members and a Teddy bear from the helicopter crew – both had been lost at the hospital.

A bank account has been set up in the girl’s name at Oak Valley Community Bank on North Main Street to help with expenses for the family’s medical and general needs from her accident and during her recovery.

The 29-year-old hit and run suspect, Andrey Gubanov, was arraigned in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Sept. 19.  Continued arraignment is set for next Thursday, Oct. 10, in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.  The Manteca man is currently free on his own recognizance.