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Son Struck by Police Car 20 Years Ago Continues to Influence Mom’s Giving Back

November 24, 2014

Written by Lisa Zepeda


Hello. My name is Lisa Zepeda. I am the senior operations admin for the PHOE Maintenance team. I would like to share my story and reason for donating to the United Way. 

On Oct. 2, 1995, my life and the lives of my family members were forever changed. 

It was a typical, hectic Monday. I remember the pink and black plaid, wrap-around dress I wore to work. It was almost 5:30 p.m. when I stopped at the baby-sitter’s house to pick up my boys after working all day. 

When I arrived, my boys were so happy to see me, especially, my youngest son, Daniel. He had recently been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and had experienced difficulties at some of his prior preschools. Daniel was so excited to tell me he had a good day and didn’t get into any trouble. The sitter was anxious to talk to me too. 

To give the sitter my full attention, I took Daniel (age 4) and his older brother, Michael (age 7), outside to the safety of the car. In a mere matter of minutes, the sitter and I looked at each other in horror as we both heard a car engine blaring down the street. Before I could get half-way to the side walk, I witnessed my son, Daniel, get hit by a police car. The officer was travelling 47 mph, without any lights or siren, while in a residential area. We later learned that the officer was responding to a silent alarm call in the neighborhood.

My son Daniel suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken leg, and laceration under his chin. His brain was damaged in both frontal lobes due to an open skull fracture. 

Daniel was later diagnosed with Frontal Lobe Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Seizures, & Cognitive NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), in addition to the ADHD. Daniel’s teachers were told to treat him as if he was a child with Autism. 

Daniel is now 23 years old, but it’s been a long, tough road and we still have a way to go. Many of the agencies we use to help Daniel are agencies that receive funding from the United Way. They include physical therapists, speech therapists, social workers, counselors, support groups, Special Education advocates, care providers, respite workers, educators, behavioral health technicians, and employment coaches. You can find these resources at

As a recipient of agencies that receive United Way funding, I want to personally thank all of those who contribute and for taking the time to read my story. 

By the way, I never, ever wore that dress again.

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