Baccalaureate ceremony held for Exeter student critically injured after being struck by Jeep

EXETER, Calif. (KFSN) -- Prayers for strength and healing hands filled Exeter Union High School's auditorium as seniors honored America Fernandez.

The 18-year-old was hospitalized after she and her boyfriend, Ricardo Isais, were hit by a Jeep while walking back from lunch.

"Both her legs were fractured, fractured pelvis, fractured skull, said family friend Margie Reed. "Ribs, four broken ribs, one pierced her lungs and caused internal bleeding and her spleen."

It happened just before 1 p.m. last Wednesday.

According to police, the pair were in the crosswalk at State Route 65 and Sequoia when they were struck by the jeep that didn't slow down.

That stretch of road, just before the school zone has a 55 mile per hour speed limit.

The driver a 68-year-old Visalia resident, stopped immediately after the collision.
While this is an ongoing investigation, police say there's no reason to believe drugs or alcohol were a factor.

"It has really hit this community hard," Reed said.

America's older sister Cynthia says her family is trusting God's plan, though they worry about her sister's fragile state, she says God is giving them strength.

She adds her family is grateful for the outpouring of support.

In addition to prayers, calls, and messages, the community has set up a GoFundMe account for medical costs.

America has only been in this country for three years but is already making her mark.

"She just has a very generous heart for the community here very involved with her youth group," said family friend Manuel Garcia.

Graduating as salutatorian of her class, the honors senior is the recipient of several academic scholarships as well as one for her community service.

She'll attend Point Loma in the fall.

America is in critical condition at Kaweah Delta Medical Center. She will undergo surgery for her broken pelvis on Monday.

America's boyfriend Ricardo sustained minor injuries and is expected to be OK.

Loved ones say he is at home recovering but is still shaken up by the incident.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.