The Citrus Heights community gathered Saturday at Skycrest Elementary School for a carwash fundraiser to help two brothers struck by a car nine days ago.
Henry Perez-Rocha, 6, and Juan Perez-Rocha, 8, were struck in a crosswalk Oct. 5 at Greenback Lane and Mariposa Avenue on their way to Skycrest Elementary in Citrus Heights.
Police said that a Chrysler 300 driven by Tresa Bales-Sterba, 52, of Orangevale collided with a Chevy Suburban in the intersection, then spun into the children. The boys' mother was walking behind her sons with another child and witnessed them being struck.
The brothers were rushed to UC Davis Medical Center. Juan has been released, but Henry was still in a coma as of Thursday. On Saturday, hospital officials confirmed he was in critical condition, but family members declined to comment.
"The mother will speak when she's ready," said Brenda Mendoza, the boys' aunt, at the carwash. "The parents have some real hard decisions to make."
Hours after the collision, Citrus Heights police arrested Bales-Sterba on suspicion of felony driving under the influence with injury and misdemeanor driving with a suspended or revoked license.
She was released from the Sacramento County Main Jail last weekend after posting $60,000 bail. She is scheduled to appear in court Monday.
On Saturday, teachers, friends, family members and others flocked to the Citrus Heights fundraiser in droves. Many heard through word of mouth, while others read about it on Facebook.
Sixty volunteers washed an estimated 500 cars over the course of six hours, organizers said.
"The cars were out the door before we started. It's been nonstop since 8 a.m.," said Sandra Rangel, Skycrest principal.
Javier Hernandez, who lives blocks away from where the accident happened, didn't know the boys but swung by anyway with his big yellow AAA service truck.
"I have two boys of my own," said Hernandez, 27. "When I heard about what happened, it made me very emotional. I just had to come today."
Many local businesses contributed supplies and food for the effort.
"The amount of support from the community has been amazing," Rangel said.
Mesa Verde High's Lamberto Cardenas, a cousin of the boys, was one of two dozen family members washing cars.
"They're related to me," the 14-year-old said, catching his breath after washing several cars. "It's important to be here."
Rancho Cordova resident Esteban Ramirez, a computer technician for San Juan Unified School District, drove to Citrus Heights with his wife, Jenny, for the fundraiser.
"I never let anyone wash my car," he said, pointing to his silver Chevy Impala. "But today it doesn't matter."
Neighbor Terry Adams, wearing a cap and sunglasses, drove his black Mercedes to the carwash and dropped $30 into the donation bucket.
"I'm community-minded," the 60-year-old said. "When something happens to the children, I always come, cash in hand."
Another fundraising carwash took place Saturday at Frank's Used Tires, 6220 Fruitridge Road in Sacramento. It was organized by Hiram Johnson High student Xavier Reyes, who has no connection to the family but wanted to help.
Donations can be made directly at any Chase Bank branch to the Juan and Henry Perez trust fund under account No. 423873525.
Proceeds will go toward the boys' medical costs and other expenses.