A Castro Valley toddler was killed Monday after the car her father was driving drifted across Fairview Avenue and crashed into a tree, the California Highway Patrol said.
Killed was 23-month-old Nadia Arreola. Her sister Anaiss, 7, suffered major injuries and was undergoing surgery on Tuesday, according to her father, Roberto Arreola. She is expected to survive.
Arreola, 27, of Castro Valley, was treated at in Castro Valley and released.
On Tuesday, he spoke with Patch while sitting in a wheelchair with a cast on his leg outside the ICU at Children's Hospital of Oakland.
He said Anaiss suffered a head injury and a fractured hip and could need further surgery on her spine.
Arreola said he lost control of the car after Nadia, who was in a car seat in the back seat, dropped her bottle and he reached back to pick it up.
“By the time I looked up, I saw something on the road—a deer maybe—and I swerved," he said.
The CHP said no alcohol or drugs appear to have been involved, and the crash is under investigation, Barker said.
Anaiss' second-grade classmates at Corpus Christi Salesian School in San Francisco are making "get well" cards for her, said Principal Sister Cecelia Henry. Henry plans to hand-deliver the cards after the last day of the school year on Thursday.
Henry said Anaiss is an honor student who just received her first Holy Communion.
"She's an inquisitive, bright-eyed little girl with always something to share," Henry said of Anaiss. "We're very distressed and everyone wants to do something to help or support the family."
Arreola describes Anaiss as outgoing and smart and said she loves to sing and spend time with family.
About Nadia, he said, "She was just fun," describing her as a talkative toddler who was outgoing just like her big sister.
Through his tears, Arreola said, “I want to just thank all the people that have helped us out.” He began listing off doctors, paramedics and the family who dialed 9-1-1 but then he became too distraught to continue.
Arreola also mentioned Brandon Hughes and his friend, who arrived at the scene of the accident and consoled him before the fire department arrived. Arreola said without them there, he would have gone completely crazy.
"We stayed with the father till authorities made us leave," Hughes said. "Indeed, I saw how shaken up he was, the pain in his eyes, in his voice..."
As many as 10 family members and friends appeared to be at the hospital on Tuesday morning.
Around 2:15 p.m. on Monday, Arreola was driving 40 mph southbound on Fairview Avenue near Five Canyons Parkway southeast of Castro Valley in unincorporated Hayward, the CHP said.
Arreola's maroon 2010 Honda Pilot sport-utility vehicle drifted over the double-yellow lines into the opposing traffic lane, then went off the road onto the northbound shoulder, hitting a tree, the CHP said.
The girls were in the back seat. All the airbags were deployed, the CHP said.
Alameda County Sheriff's deputies helped escort the ambulance down Castro Valley Boulevard to Eden Medical Center, said sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson.
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