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Escondido teen, hit-and-run victim makes 'miracle' recovery

Escondido teen, hit-and-run victim makes 'miracle' recovery from gruesome injury
Posted at 4:27 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 00:10:54-04

SAN MARCOS, Calif. (KGTV) -- The recovery of a teenage hit-and-run victim is being called 'miraculous' after she beat the odds from a devastating injury.

Two Fridays ago, around 2:30 a.m., 17-year-old Lily Utley was sleeping over at a friend's home with a group of friends when they decided to go get some food. Not long after, Lily's mother, Charmaine Demara learned her daughter was at a hospital, fighting for her life.

“My heart dropped. It's a mom's worst nightmare," said Demara.

Deputies say Lily, a senior at Valley High, was in the backseat when a Chevy sedan broadsided the car she was in, at the intersection of South Las Posas Road and La Mirada Drive. The driver of the Chevy ran off before that car burst into flames.

Lily suffered a host of injuries, including collapsed lungs, a broken collarbone, and the most devastating: her skull had become detached from her neck.

“It’s basically when you’re decapitated with your muscles and your skin holding your head-on,” said Demara.

Doctors said Lily's chances of surviving were 30% and if she did, there was a 90% chance she would be paralyzed.

Two days after the accident, Lily underwent a seven-hour surgery to stabilize her neck and spine.

In the moments after the surgery, Demara braced herself.

“Right when we went upstairs, I said, ‘Can you give mommy a thumbs-up?’ She gave me a thumbs up and wiggled her toes … It was the best feeling in the world. I was screaming and clapping my hands. Doctors have called it a miracle,” said Demara.

Lily is still facing a long road, but she's expected to recover, although her range of motion will impacted. As she heals, the search continues for a hit-and-run driver.

“Lily said to me, ‘I can't believe they'd leave me. How can you do that?’ I said, ‘Baby, I don't know,’” said Demara.

Demara made an appeal directly to the driver.

“Do the right thing and turn yourself in … I need to be able to sleep at night knowing … it was brought to justice.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department’s non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200.