A 9-year-old girl saved from being fatally hit by a car has a message that she and her family wants everyone to hear: her mom died a hero.
"My baby's a hero," the girl's grandmother, Rosita, told WPVI . "She saved her babies. She couldn't save herself, but she saved her babies."
The young girl, Leani Perez, had just gotten something to eat with her mother, 28-year-old Rosa Lydia Rojas, and her brother, 7-year-old Jadiyn, in the Port Richmond area of Philadelphia on June 10.
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That's when 39-year-old Ryan McHugh reportedly lost control of his vehicle while high on drugs. His car smashed onto the curb and careened straight for the family.
"I heard somebody scream, 'The car's going to hit the cart,'" Leani tearfully recalled, according to WPVI. "And my mom pushed me. When she tried to push my brother, it was too late."
The driver smashed into them, hitting Rosa and Jadiyn.
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The boy was injured and is in critical condition, while Rosa, who acted as a human shield, was killed. Leani was unharmed.
"When I fell in the grass, I put my hands over my head," said Leani. "When I came back up, I saw my brother and my mom."
After undergoing surgery, Jadiyn is still reportedly in bad shape, but his condition is stable, and his prognosis is good.
McHugh was arrested and faces charges that include homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault while driving under the influence. Witnesses detained him until police arrived.
"I want to thank the people who came to support my mom and the police officers that caught the man that hurt my mom," Leani said.
A GoFundMe page was set up on June 11 to help the Rojas family alleviate memorial costs. As of the evening of June 12, it has raised more than $2,600 of its $8,500 goal, and more than 1,000 people have shared the story.
"My heart is so heavy for your family," one donor wrote on the page. "This was such a senseless tragedy for this beautiful woman and her children. I pray you all find comfort knowing you have an angel to watch over you. God bless you all."
A number of people, from friends to strangers, offered their thoughts and prayers and called Rosa a hero.
"We [didn't] know you but was driving behind the man who did this and witnessed it," another donor wrote. "We are [devastated] and sending prayers to you and your family."