UPPER WEST SIDE — The Upper West Side woman who was critically injured when her 4-year-old granddaughter was fatally struck by a teenage driver fleeing police was released from the hospital Wednesday.
Katia Gutierrez, 58, was walking with Ariel Russo to her pre-school on June 4 when Franklin Reyes, 17, who was allegedly driving without a license, hit them both at the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue and West 97th Street, authorities said.
Reyes has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Gutierrez, wearing a black and white scarf draped around her face, was wheeled out of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital at West 114th Street and Amsterdam Avenue on a stretcher by hospital workers. She was lifted into the back of an ambulance that was set to take her to her Upper West Side home — the first time she's been there since the accident.
The crash injured Gutierrez’s back and legs. She will need extensive rehabilitation, according to the family’s lawyer Sanford Rubenstein.
Hiding her face as she was moved into the ambulance, Gutierrez began to softly weep as her daughter and Ariel's mother, Sofia Russo, followed by her side.
Russo remained mostly silent, saying only: “She can’t walk.”
“She’s upset. This is overwhelming for her,” added Alan Russo, Ariel’s father, who hoisted a wheelchair into a black SUV parked outside the hospital entrance. “She hasn’t been home to the apartment — all that’s going to do is bring back memories.”
Rubenstein added that Gutierrez's release from the hospital is only the beginning of a long road to recovery.
"Not only is Katia unable to walk because of her badly fractured leg, she will have to live the rest of her life with the horror of walking her granddaughter to school on the sidewalk when Ariel was run down and killed," he said in a statement.
The family is suing the city for $40 million because of a 911 dispatch delay of 4 minutes they claim played a role in their daughter’s death.
On Friday, Sofia Russo testified before the City Council about the system.
"I believe the delay may have been a substantial factor in her death," she testified. "We need to demand this 911 system be fixed."
Last week, Franklin Reyes entered a plea of not guilty to the charges and the two families sat in the same room for the first time.
His bail has not yet been set.