Suspect identified in Rosarito hit-and-run that injured student

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Mexican police have identified a suspect in a Rosarito, Mexico, hit-and-run that left a UC Davis graduate dead, and a CSUN student seriously injured.

Joseph Andre Escalante, a CSUN student, is being relocated to Scripps Rehabilitation Center in Encinitas, near San Diego.

His father, Joseph Escalante, said he does not yet know how the suspect was identified, but plans to press charges. Escalante said he has been advised by the police to not reveal the name of the suspect.

Joseph Andre suffered near-fatal injuries when he and a female companion were struck by a drag-racing car while resting on a beach in Rosarito last month. The young woman, Amy Ruth Kent, 24, a graduate of UC Davis, was killed in the accident.

Escalante said his son is progressing, but he will need extensive rehabilitation.

Since the accident, Joseph Andre has undergone several operations, including facial restructuring, during which his mouth was wired due to facial fractures. Doctors are hopeful that his face will heal well, his father said.

Joseph Andre is not able to talk yet, and is using feeding and breathing tubes, Escalante said. Also, Joseph Andre is undergoing physical and occupational therapy every day to try to help him sit in a chair and slowly start walking again, Escalante said. He said Joseph Andre has been able to sit in a chair three or four times.

“He can’t take too much,” Escalante said.

The doctors are seeing signs of improvement, but cannot yet see what lies ahead for Joseph Andre because he has suffered head trauma, and there is a possibility that this may affect his motor skills, Escalante said. He said it is also too soon to tell if Joseph Andre’s vision will be permanently impaired.

Joseph Andre is aware of his surroundings and recognizes his father, but has only been told he was in a car accident, for fear that the truth might cause him trauma, Escalante said.

“He is responding to most of the commands the doctor gives him,” Escalante said. “That’s why we’re hopeful.”

Escalante said the medical insurance coverage for his son is already maxed out, and a couple of Joseph Andre’s friends are trying to raise funds for his medical costs.

Michelle Mayle, sophomore English and deaf studies major, said Joseph Andre is one of her good friends.

She is organizing a flowergram fundraising campaign, where people purchase flowers that Mayle then distributes, with the proceeds going to Joseph Andre and his family. She is also accepting donations and trying to sell snacks at school in an effort to raise money.

“I thought it would help the family to know that we’re thinking about him,” Mayle said.

Taylor Whipple, senior English major, is also one of Joseph Andre’s friends trying to raise funds for the cause. As president of the Water Polo Club at CSUN, Whipple has set up a fund to which anyone can donate money to cover the medical expenses for Joseph Andre and his family.

“I felt compelled to do something after hearing about it,” Whipple said.

“I was really happy about (the fundraising),” Escalante said. “It’s cool they’re supporting him.”