VENTURA — An 11-year-old girl suffered severe head injuries Friday when she was struck by a car after darting into a heavily traveled street on her way home from school, authorities said.
Heather Drake, a sixth-grader at Anacapa Middle School, was taken by ambulance to Ventura County Medical Center after the 3 p.m. incident in the 3700 block of Telegraph Road, according to the Ventura Police Department.
Heather suffered fractures to the front and back of her skull, as well as a concussion. She was heavily sedated Friday night in the intensive care unit, where doctors said she would stay for at least three days.
She was expected to have no permanent damage, according to nursing staff.
Heather's parents, grandmothers, friends and Anacapa Middle School Principal Mike Johnson were at the emergency waiting room minutes after the crash.
Before hearing the diagnosis about 7 p.m., the Drakes said the situation was exceptionally hard because Heather is their only child. The couple lost a son in the same hospital to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome eight years ago.
The Drake family said Heather's mother, Debra, had been driving near the middle school when she saw emergency crews.
"She was coming home from work and she saw the ambulance and she said she knew it was Heather," Heather's grandmother, Judy Drake, said. "A mother's instinct, I guess."
A family friend said she normally gives Heather a ride home from school, but on Friday, Heather was walking home with a schoolmate, 12-year-old Rebecca Navarro of Ventura.
The two girls set out from campus walking east toward the YMCA at 3760 Telegraph Road, Rebecca said.
While trying to reach a popular shortcut, Heather ran into the path of a red Volvo on Telegraph.
"She went ahead of me and got hit," a sobbing Rebecca said at the emergency room as she waited with her father. "She got carried a few feet and then she was just lying there."
The driver of the car that struck Heather, 31-year-old Stephen Fedde of Ventura, was not cited, Lt. Roger Nustad said. Police believe Fedde was traveling under the 45 mph speed limit.
Heather's father, John Drake, said he believed that children often cross Telegraph mid-block trying to reach neighborhoods near Palomares Avenue.
The school has no crossing guard in the area, but there is a traffic light and crosswalk at Mills and Main streets where students can safely cross, police said.
The school's 1,000 students had been released from classes for the day at 2:50 p.m., just minutes before the accident, Assistant Principal James Sather said.
"It's a very unfortunate incident and we are all concerned for the student's well-being," he said.