Columbia police and the family of a 26-year-old woman who was severely injured Saturday night by a hit-and-run driver as she was crossing Garners Ferry Road are searching for the person responsible for hitting her.
Donna Cook said her daughter, Emily Bustamante, was out with friends celebrating the University of South Carolina’s win over the University of Central Florida when she crossed the street to Rush’s to get some food before calling it a night.
When Bustamante was returning from the restaurant, Cook said, she was struck by a vehicle, which had run a red light and then fled the area. Other drivers who were stopped at the light got out of their cars to check on Bustamante and to reroute traffic so she wasn’t hit again.
“People aren’t perfect and accidents happen,” said Cook, who has been in the hospital with her daughter every day since the accident. “What bothers me is you stop. You don’t just keep going when something like this happens.”
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She said her husband had left their Hopkins area home to pick up Bustamante after hearing she might need a ride home, but when he arrived, he found their daughter lying in the street with a broken right shoulder, broken pelvis and several fractured vertebrae. Emergency responders had yet to arrive.
“I was in bed, and I got a call at 11:45 p.m.,” Cook said. “I didn’t know what to think. We didn’t have any details about what happened. I had no car, because (her husband) took the car to go check on (Emily).”
Just two weeks ago, Bustamante’s 5-year-old daughter, Rowan, had a chemotherapy port removed after treatment for a tumor on her spine that was discovered a year ago, Cook said. Now Rowan is in the care of family while her mother recovers from her injuries.
Cook said the family faces a severe financial dilemma in paying Bustamante’s medical bills.
The younger woman’s place of employment doesn’t offer health insurance for its employees, Cook said, and since Bustamante is 26, she is no longer covered by her mother’s health insurance.
“We are not sure how we are going to make it through the next 12 weeks,” Cook said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Bustamante’s medical bills.
Jennifer Timmons, a Columbia Police Department spokeswoman, said investigators are searching nearby surveillance cameras to see if any of them caught the accident on video. Investigators also have interviewed several people who stopped to help Bustamante following the hit-and-run, but no clear description of the vehicle has been released.
If anyone has information regarding the accident, they are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1 (888)-CRIME-SC.