ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A father is faced with learning to walk again, and his young daughter is still in a coma, all after a man stole a state vehicle and crashed into their car. Now close friends of the family are doing what they can to help.

Jennifer Pagan says she’ll never forget when a friend called to tell her that 43-year-old David Pizarro and his 10-year-old daughter, Penny, had gotten into a crash. “Just hearing in her voice the panic and concern and it was just a quick, no, you know, everything is not okay,” says Pagan. 

On Monday, Mar. 27, Pizarro was driving his daughter to school, on her first day back from spring break, before going to work. That’s when police say John Bearden Jr. ran a stop sign and t-boned Pizarro while driving a stolen state SUV. The incident happened near San Pedro and Zuni in southeast Albuquerque.  

Both Pizarro and his daughter were taken to UNM Hospital and placed in intensive care. “The first 24 hours were just scary for everyone. We really didn’t know what was gonna happen,” says Pagan. 

Pizarro is suffering from brain bleeding and a brain injury.  He has regained consciousness but will need rehabilitation therapy to walk again. His daughter is in a medically induced coma and has a fractured femur and pelvis, along with damage to her liver and chest, and a collapsed lung. 

Pizarro is a single father who also took care of his elderly mother. Pagan says the father and daughter have a way of lighting up the room. “He’s a gentle giant, I would say that. He just has a way of making people feel comfortable,” says Pagan, “Penny is just a sweet girl. She’s very playful and sometimes sassy, but that’s why we love her.”  

To help pay their bills, friends created a GoFundMe, which has gotten immense support. Pagan says that help from the community has really made a difference during this difficult time. 

“We’re really trying to stay positive and to stay hopeful and to just really try to bring as much like positivity and just love into this otherwise tragic situation,” says Pagan. To donate to the GoFundMe, click here