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Friends, Families Are Shattered by Hit-Run

Authorities say driver who struck two joggers in Dana Point on Saturday didn't brake.

April 12, 2006|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

It was to be a routine Saturday morning for the four San Clemente women. Jog along Coast Highway in southern Orange County, hit Starbucks for a pick-me-up, then meet again at the gym.

But a motorist who never braked plowed into two of them, both mothers of three, and authorities said Tuesday they were still searching for the owner of the car.

Carol Daniel, 41, was thrown about 60 feet and remains in critical condition at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Stacy Neria, 34, was upgraded to serious condition Tuesday but remains unconscious.

Margaret Senske, who was uninjured, saw her friends get hit and the driver take off.

"He sped up and couldn't get away fast enough," she said.

The 1981 Buick Park Avenue was last registered to William Todd Bradshaw, 37, who is being sought for questioning, said Jim Amormino, an Orange County sheriff's spokesman. The car, extensively damaged, was found abandoned a mile from the scene in Dana Point.

Bradshaw, who has lived in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Long Beach, has an outstanding arrest warrant for drunk driving in Los Angeles County, Amormino said. Bradshaw's cellphone was found in the car.

Senske and the fourth jogger, Diana McDonald, who was also unharmed, said the Buick's speed was hard to judge but was at least 40 mph.

Authorities aren't sure. "Usually we measure speed with the help of the skid marks," Amormino said. "But unfortunately, he didn't hit the brakes."

Neria, whose birthday was Saturday, has a fractured skull, two broken legs and a broken pelvis, nose and cheek, said her husband, Chris.

The couple's family and friends have pitched in to care for their children, ages 6, 4, and 18 months while Neria recovers.

"I've been telling my kids that Mommy has had an accident, kind of like when they get sick, to help them understand why Mommy isn't there," he said.

Daniel broke her neck, pelvis and both legs; her left leg was nearly severed, relatives said.

"I'm hoping for a long and full recovery, which means her getting to go home," said her husband, Craig.

Senske said the four met at Fitness Elite, a San Clemente gym. Daniel, at 6 feet, was a star volleyball player at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the mid-1980s.

When the four women jogged or exercised together and one complained that she was tired, it was Daniel who would chime in with the group's motivational phrase: "Suck it up."

Neria played softball at Fountain Valley High School and remained a fitness buff in the years since.

It wasn't out of the ordinary for the women to wake up at 5 a.m. and run six to eight miles.

Now, the tragedy has brought their families closer.

"We'd like everyone to know we're asking for their prayers," Senske said.

A fund has been set up to help pay for expenses not covered by insurance. Those who wish to contribute can do so to the Joggers Fund, or in the names of Stacy Neria and Carol Daniel, at Washington Mutual, 638 Camino de los Mares, No. 140, San Clemente, CA 92673.

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