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Man charged in hit-and-run that badly injured child, grandmother

Posted at 9:19 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 22:19:52-04

A 42-year-old man has been charged in connection with a hit-and-run that badly injured a grandmother and temporary blinded a 7-year-old girl.

Mary Martinez was driving near 35th and Montana with her two young grandchildren when they were suddenly struck by an oncoming pickup truck last week.

Good samaritans witnessed what occurred and quickly rushed to the vehicle, helping Martinez and the children.

"I pulled over, looked in the car and we’d seen there’s people in there. They were screaming and crying for help. We just got out of the car and went to help them," said Melissa, a witness to the crash who wanted to remain anonymous.

When police arrived to the scene, the driver of the striking pickup truck was gone.

Martinez's younger niece was unharmed, however 7-year-old Kaelani, described as fun and outgoing, was blinded and hospitalized for days with her grandmother and temporally blinded due to her injuries.

After researching the origin of a handicap sticker left behind, investigators arrested 42-year-old Peter Helfenstein after he was discovered at a local hospital with injuries from the crash. Prosecutors charged him with a single felony count of "Hit and Run-Involve Great Bodily Harm."

Helfenstein is expected to appear in court on May 22nd.

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