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Friends: Modesto teen who fell from SUV she was driving is in medically induced coma

A gofundme page has been set up to help her family pay medical costs for the injuries Amber Wilkins, 19, of Modesto suffered when she fell from the Jeep Wrangler she was driving on Scenic Drive in Modesto on Saturday night, Sept. 14, 2019.
A gofundme page has been set up to help her family pay medical costs for the injuries Amber Wilkins, 19, of Modesto suffered when she fell from the Jeep Wrangler she was driving on Scenic Drive in Modesto on Saturday night, Sept. 14, 2019.

Amber Wilkins, the Gregori High School student who fell out of the Jeep Wrangler she was driving Saturday night on Scenic Drive in Modesto, is in a medically induced coma, according to friends and a teacher.

Rod Landes told The Bee he visited his former student Monday night and was encouraged because “while I was there, I was holding her hand and she squeezed it and her body shifted in the bed!”

In a Facebook post, he said, “Amber always had a quick smile and an easy laugh! ... Keep her in your prayers. She has lots of broken bones and it will take a long time for her to heal!”

A friend of the 19-year-old created an online fundraising page to help raise money for medical costs the Wilkins family will face. Katie Conners wrote on the page that Wilkins suffered major injuries, including a lacerated liver, seven broken facial bones, a bruised lung, broken skull and broken arm.

She said the fall led to one of the Jeep’s wheels running over her torso and upper thigh. “We are unsure of her full treatment at this time,” Conners wrote, “but there will be several physical therapy visits, many surgeries, extended stay in the hospital and the road to recovery after.”

The incident happened about 11:30 p.m. Saturday on Scenic Drive just west of Eastridge Drive, Police Department spokeswoman Sharon Bear said Monday. Wilkins was westbound, driving the 2019 Jeep, when she somehow fell out of the compact SUV, which had its roof and doors off.

The driverless Jeep continued down the roadway until the passengers were able to bring it to a stop.

Traffic Unit officers are investigating how Wilkins fell out. They’ve taken statements from four friends who were with her in the Jeep, Bear said. Police identified the four as Chase Olson, Evan Conrad and Gustavo Acosta, all 19 and riding in the back seat, and Christopher Butterfield, 20, who was the front seat passenger. None of the four was injured.

On Tuesday, Bear said there was no further update available as the investigation continues.

Police have said alcohol was not a factor in the incident.

The Traffic Unit is seeking witnesses to the Jeep incident, as well as two hit-and-run crashes Saturday that have left people in critical condition.

About 1:30 a.m. Saturday, dispatch got calls of a female adult lying unresponsive in the intersection of Sierra Drive and Fifth Street. Officers found Tanya Dorton, 41, with injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene before officers arrived. Dorton remains hospitalized.

About 10:20 p.m. Saturday, on McHenry Avenue at Fairmont Avenue, Juane Johnson, 27, was struck by a vehicle as he crossed the street. Witnesses said they believe the vehicle was a full-size red pickup truck, and it did not stop. Johnson also remains hospitalized.

Anyone with information or video surveillance showing the incidents is urged to contact Police Department Traffic Investigator Randall Raduechel at 209-572-9592 or raduechelr@modestopd.com.

Tips may be left anonymously with Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636.

Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.
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