Pregnant Woman and Baby Critical After DUI Crash
A pregnant woman and her baby are in critical condition after being struck during a DUI crash on April 8. The collision occurred on M Street in the vicinity of 4th Ave in Rio Linda at about 8:00 in the evening, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP). North Sacramento Police reported a male driving a Jeep was traveling westbound on M Street when he suddenly swerved to the right and hit a parked Chevrolet Impala. The pregnant woman, age 23, was standing in front of the Impala and it struck her, causing her to fall to the ground. The drunk driver was arrested at the scene.
Driver and Pregnant Woman Identified
The six-month pregnant woman is identified as Ciara Villegras by family members. Her son, Ricky, was delivered early due to the car accident. Both remain in a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Villegras’ family members are rallying around the mother and her son, praying that the outcome will be positive. One family member said that Villegras was always a fighter, and she believes her son will be too. The drunk driver is identified as Ronny Ward III, also 23. He was taken into police custody and booked into the Sacramento County Jail. He is charged with driving under the influence and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license.
More Details About the Accident
According to family members, Villegras, who is the oldest of five children, had gone out to get her sister milk. Family members are setting up a GoFundMe to pay for hospital expenses.
A premature birth is one that occurs before 37 weeks. At six months, gestation time is only 24 weeks. This is considered significantly premature. Overall, 50 percent of babies born between 23 and 24 weeks survive. At 40 weeks, a baby will weigh an average of seven pounds, 15 ounces and have a head circumference of 13.8 inches. By contrast, a baby born at 24 weeks will weigh one pound and 6.9 ounces. Its head circumference will measure 8.7 inches. A baby delivered at six months will be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit where a team of doctors will be available. Physical trauma to a pregnant woman is a risk factor for premature birth.
Physical Problems Associated with Premature Birth
A pregnant woman who is seriously injured in a car accident has a high risk of delivering her baby prematurely. A baby born early may have some of the following problems:
- Heart problems: One of the most common heart problems is called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). This is an opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery that remains patent (open). If not closed, it can lead to heart failure. Low blood pressure (hypotension) can also occur. If it does, IV fluids, blood transfusions, and medication dosing must be adjusted.
- Breathing issues: Due to an immature respiratory system, it may be difficult for the baby to breathe. Premature babies can lack surfactant. This substance lets the lungs expand normally. In some cases, this can lead to respiratory distress syndrome. In other cases, the baby may take longer than usual between breaths. This is known as apnea.
- Problems with temperature control: Because premature babies do not have the same body fat as an infant born at term, they are unable to keep their temperature constant. The core body temperature may become low (hypothermia). This can lead to other problems such as low blood sugar. Usually, premature babies are kept in a warm environment such as an incubator.
- Brain injury: Bleeding into the brain occurs in babies born prematurely. This is called an intraventricular hemorrhage. If this bleed continues, it can lead to brain injury.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Necrotizing enterocolitis is a condition where the cells lining the bowel are damaged. It can occur after the premature infant starts to feed. Use of breast milk exclusively helps prevent this from happening.
- Blood problems: Anemia is common in premature babies. Newborn jaundice occurs more frequently in premature infants. This is a condition where the skin and eyes become yellow because of too much bilirubin in the blood.
- Underdeveloped immune system: Infection is more common in premature infants because their immune system is unable to fight it. This can result in an infection in the bloodstream called sepsis.
Neurological and Learning Disabilities
Problems with the nervous system and learning disabilities are associated with premature birth. This can range from cerebral palsy to slower learning than counterparts of the same age. Vision problems also occur. One is called retinopathy of prematurity. Here, the blood vessels in the eye overgrow and can scar the retina. In time, this can lead to retinal detachment and blindness. The hearing is also affected by premature birth with resultant hearing loss. Behavioral problems are frequent. Developing asthma is another problem seen with premature infants.
Compensation for Problems Associated With Premature Birth
If a negligent party is responsible for a premature birth, he or she will also be liable for any issues associated with it. For example, extended hospital stays in the neonatal ICU and continued care after leaving the hospital should be compensated. If the infant develops learning disabilities that persist into childhood, any treatment required should also be covered. In the event an infant dies, the parents can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party.
Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. If you or your baby is hurt by an impaired driver, you have the right to recover damages. Call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 400-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach out to me online.
I’ve helped numerous residents of Sacramento since 1982 recover just compensation. I’ve done this with all types of personal injuries including car, pedestrian and traumatic brain injuries among others.
Learn more about my practice by using the following links:
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