Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 5:27 pm | Mostly Cloudy 71º


Local News

Fund Set Up for Mother, Daughter Badly Hurt In Highway 101 Crash

Their chihuahua perished in the crash at Carrillo Street offamp in Santa Barbara, but another dog survived

Karen Michaels-Baca and her daughter, Maddy, have no memory of what happened to them on the Saturday morning before Christmas. 

The two, along with their two dogs, were driving from Apple Valley up to Santa Maria to spend time with Maddy's grandparents for Christmas. 

For unknown reasons, the Cadillac Escalade they were riding in veered off the freeway and slammed into a palm tree and sound wall at the Carrillo Street offramp, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Mother and daughter were trapped in the SUV and had to be extricated by Santa Barbara City Fire Department crews.

Both suffered major injuries, and were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The family's chihuahua, Pearl, perished in the accident. A second dog, Spencer, a Pomeranian, survived. 

Michaels-Baca suffered a severe crush injury to her right hip and right femur, according to Rachael Vaughn, cousin to Carmen Baca, who is Maddy's father and Karen's husband.

Karen Michaels-Baca

She needed reconstructive surgery that included bone grafts, Vaughn said, and will need another surgery to replace a joint.

She also received several cuts to her legs. 

Maddy suffered fractures to her pelvis, vertebrae, right femur, left tibia, and right ankle and foot, Vaughn said. She already has endured multiple surgeries. 

"Both have a very long and difficult road ahead of them," Vaughn told Noozhawk. 

Michaels-Baca works as deputy district attorney in Santa Bernardino County. She worked in the Santa Barbara County Probation Department for 14 years prior to that. 

Maddy Baca

Michaels-Baca is still at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Once released, she is expected to spend the next year in an acute rehabilitation facility, likely in San Luis Obispo County, where Vaughn lives.

Maddy has been released from the hospital and is staying with her grandparents in Santa Maria.

She will need to learn to walk again.

Vaughn said she hopes Maddy, who goes to a charter school, will be able to use Skype and other technology to continue her studies. 

"She is the most optimistic 14-year-old I have ever known in my life," said Vaughn said. "I am so impressed with her optimism. She is motivated to get better. She is in a lot of pain."

Carmen Baca has taken a leave from his job as a truck driver to care for the family, which has started a gofundme site to help pay medical expenses beyond what insurance would cover, the financial burden they will bear with Carmen needing to take an extended leave of absence from work to care for Karen and Maddy, and travel expenses for Carmen.

Vaughn said the family's goal is to raise $10,000 for medical bills.

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Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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