LONG BEACH - A 26-year-old Long Beach woman left in critical condition after a crash that killed her best friend is fighting for her life, and friends and family of both victims plan to have a fundraiser Saturday to help with funeral expenses and medical bills.
Heather Dean was driving Trisha Esmond Cade to Cade's work at at the downtown Hyatt around 10 p.m. Nov. 2 when Dean's car was struck by a Chevy Tahoe, which had entered the Long Beach (710) Freeway the wrong way, police and witnesses said.
The force of the impact left Cade dead at the scene and Long Beach Fire Department crews had to cut Dean from the wreckage of her car. A second car was also struck, and witnesses had to chase the drunk driver down and hold him until police arrived.
Derrick Armstrong, 33, of Buena Park was formally charged Tuesday with gross vehicular manslaughter, felony drunk driving and hit-and-run and was ordered held in lieu of $230,000 bail. He is scheduled to return to court Nov. 20 for arraignment.
Dean, who grew up in Long Beach and graduated from Long Beach City College before going to work at an advertising agency in Santa Monica, was rushed to St. Mary Medical Center where she remains in the Intensive Care Unit. She suffered multiple broken bones and lacerations and has developed pneumonia, said her mother, Lisa Duarte.
Doctors are also concerned about some of her organ functions and have been unable to give her family a time when she might be able to leave the ICU, Duarte said.
"She has tubes down her throat and she's on a ventilator," Duarte said. "But we know it's our Heather when the sedation is (reduced). ... You'll ask her if she wants us to leave and she'll shake her head no, and we'll ask if she wants us to keep talking and she shakes her head yes. So there is some communication."
Family and friends of both women plan to gather at College Park Church of God, 1901 Palo Verde Ave., in Long Beach from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to hold a car wash to raise funds for Dean's care and Cade's funeral expenses.