12/13/2011

Calif. girl searches for bystander who helped her after shooting


By Lisa Fernandez
Contra Costa Times

CONTRA COSTA, Calif. — When 14-year-old Alicia Sotelo lay on the ground in Morgan Hill bleeding after a bullet seared through her leg, a man dialed her mom and urged her to stay alive.

Now Alicia wants to find him.

"He kept telling her, 'Alicia, don't pass out. The ambulance is on the way. Stay with me,' " said her grandmother, Alice Sotelo. "She's been asking to meet him."

If only the freshman at Ann Sobrato High School could remember what the man looked like, or any other identifying clues to help her track him down: She wants to say thanks.

Morgan Hill police Sgt. Shane Palsgrove said he combed through the police reports and there is no mention of this stranger; the man's voice would not be on the dispatch audio because the man did not call 911 as the ambulance was already on the way.

Alicia was one of four victims in a Nov. 4 drive-by gang shooting near Cosmo and Del Monte avenues that landed five suspects in jail.

One of those victims, Tara Romero, 14, died.

Another 14-year-old girl was shot in the stomach and, according to Sotelo, is "doing much better" and walking around, despite the fact that in a tragic twist of fate, her mother died during her hospital stay. A 15-year-old boy was treated for a gunshot wound to his leg that night and released.

Sotelo said all of the teens had just left a birthday party and were deciding whether to take the bus home or have somebody's grandmother pick them up, when the bullets flew.

Prosecutors charged Esmeling Bahena, 18, and Ricardo Diaz, 19, both of Morgan Hill; Fernando Mateo, 20, of Gilroy; Primitovo Hernandez, 23, of San Jose, and a 17-year-old Morgan Hill boy with homicide, attempted murder and gang-enhancement charges.

Police said the teens who were shot were innocent bystanders.

"Wrong place, wrong time," Alicia's aunt, Andrea Sotelo, said.

Alicia had surgery shortly after the shooting at Kaiser San Jose on Santa Teresa Boulevard, her family said, but had to return just after Thanksgiving because her wound was so infected. She had another surgery Monday. Doctors told the family that it will be a long road and a lot of work before the athletic teen is able to walk and play softball again.

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