PGHS adds up human cost of DUI wreck
PINE CONE STAFF REPORT
Published: February 26, 2010
CORRECTION: In print editions and the early pdf edition of this story, a photo appeared on the front page of a person in a football uniform which was identified as Aaron Corn. It was not. We regret the error.
WHILE POLICE continue to investigate the devastating car crash that injured five Pacific Grove High School seniors early Sunday, support and prayers are pouring in for a 17-year-old girl recovering from the accident.
On Sunday at about 3:30 a.m., a Toyota 4Runner driven by P.G. High student Aaron Corn crashed into a tree in Skyline Forest in Monterey. Corn and four other teens, Eric Miller, Matt Wheeler and Ahmad Mahmoud all football players and Chelsie Hill, were injured in the crash.
Hill, 17, who was sitting in the back seat wearing a lap belt, was seriously injured. But online support for the high school senior and member of the P.G. High Dance Team has been overwhelming. A Facebook page already has more than 1,500 fans sending her good wishes.
“God bless you, beautiful girl,” one friend wrote on the page. “Stay strong Chelsie! I’m thinking and praying for you constantly,” another wrote.
While Hill will likely be in the hospital for some time and is expected to undergo rehabilitation, the popular teenager is healing well and has a positive attitude, according to comments from her friends and family on a web page at www.caringbridge.org.
“An extensive back surgery was successful and they have done well in stopping any bleeding,” the website says. “She is resting a lot, but has already started bossing the nurses around ensuring they are doing their job right. Her spirit and will are as strong as ever.”
Dozens of photos of Hill are posted on the site, including pics of the teen recovering in the hospital. There have been nearly 5,000 visits to the website and about 150 people have offered words of kindness. “You are such an amazing person and I know you will get through this, and it will make u even stronger!” one friend wrote.
On Tuesday, an entry in her page’s journal says holy water was placed on Hill’s feet and legs.
“Right after, she said she felt tingling in her legs,” the journal said. “This gave us all a greater sense of hope.”
Hill has received numerous cards and a signed banner from her friends at P.G. High, according to online journal.
“She was so happy to hear that a lot of people are thinking about her,” it says. “She is feeling all the warm wishes from the Peninsula all the way up here in San Jose.”
On Wednesday, hospital staff gave Hill a laptop so she could read the comments from her online supporters.
Meanwhile, driver Aaron Corn, 18, a P.G. High baseball and football player, was seriously injured in the accident.
According to a Santa Clara Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Thursday, Corn is in good condition, a designation meaning a patient’s “vital signs are stable and within normal limits” and he is “conscious and comfortable.”
The condition of Wheeler, who is at Stanford Hospital, was not immediately available.
Monterey police investigators suspect Corn had been drinking before the crash.
“We are actively working toward discovering who may have furnished alcohol to [Corn],” Monterey Police spokeswoman Leslie Sonne told The Pine Cone.
If investigators find Corn was drunk, they will forward charges to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.
Pacific Grove police say Corn took the Toyota from Christopher Veloz, 19, after Corn had been at Veloz’s P.G. home. Veloz told police he was awakened by a phone call from his father a Seaside police commander at about 4 a.m. stating his SUV had been involved in an accident. Veloz reported he did not give anybody permission to use his vehicle, nor did he know who took it.
Eric Miller, son of Monterey Fire Department assistant fire chief Andrew Miller, and Ahmad Mahmoud were both treated at CHOMP and released. However, according to his mother, Dr. Julie Belz, Mahmoud will have surgery this week.
According to a friend of one of the injured students, two other teenagers were also in the Toyota but were let out before the crash.
Pacific Grove High principal Matt Bell told The Pine Cone Thursday the mood at P.G. High early in the week was somber, but that it’s slowly returning to normal, though some students are still visibly upset.
Bell also issued words of support for Chelsie Hill on her support page at caringbridge.org.
“The entire staff, and obviously students, have you in their thoughts and prayers,” Bell posted. “I will hold you in my continued prayers and can’t wait to see you walking around school again soon.”