Alan Cozby was inside his Riverbank home when he heard a loud "boom" Tuesday around 5:05 p.m. He told FOX40 that as he walked out of his house, his suspicions about the loud noise were confirmed. Right at the intersection of Patterson and Snedigar roads a speeding car had crashed into another car turning left, pushing it 50 feet down the road.
“I knew right away what it was," Cozby said. "This isn’t the first time. I mean there’s at least two or three accidents here every year.”
The driver who caused the crash drove away, leaving a woman and two children behind in the car he had hit.
Cozby told FOX40 a firefighter had been driving behind the victims' car when he saw Felix Wilkerson trying to overtake other drivers. It is illegal to pass other cars on Patterson Road and Wilkerson was driving at around 75 mph at the time.
When Wilkerson drove away from the crash, the firefighter went to help the three victims. He pulled 3-year-old Chelsea from her seat, but she was not responding, according to Cozby.
“Trying to get some response from the child, but I never heard any response from the child," Cozby said.
Several citizens followed Wilkerson to Eleanor Avenue where he drove off the roadway into a pasture. The good Samaritans held the 29-year-old suspect there until deputies could arrive at the scene.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department reports Wilkerson was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and reckless driving. FOX40 found that in April Wilkerson was in Tuolumne County Jail for violating parole.
Chelsea's babysitter was driving the car Tuesday. She was going to drop the 3-year-old off with her stepmother, according to Chelsea's grandmother Angel Marshall.
On Friday morning, Marshall said one of Chelsea's lungs collapsed as she lay in the UC Davis Medical Center in a medically induced coma. Marshall told FOX40 her bossy, helpful and lively granddaughter is now fighting for her life with bruised lungs and a fractured skull.
“I just feel like, this is my child," Marshall said. "Like she is my blessing and it’s really hard to know what she’s going through.”
The babysitter and the other child were hospitalized following the hit-and-run. Their conditions have not been reported.
One of the good Samaritans who stopped Wilkerson in the pasture reached out to Marshall. She hopes to meet him in person one day.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for food and gas for the family as well as items for Chelsea once she returns home.
“That my God is so much stronger than this man’s actions and I know that she’s going to get through it, but she definitely needs the prayers," Marshall said.