An 11-year-old Petaluma girl seriously injured in December when struck by a van is recovering at home and expected to return to school in a few months, her principal said.

Mercy Martinez spent several weeks in Oakland Children's Hospital being treated for serious head, leg and arm injuries following the collision on Dec. 18 in front of McKinley Elementary School.

"Mercy is home now and she is on the mend," said Principal Matthew Harris. "She will be on physical therapy for a while for her leg, but we are looking forward to welcoming her back to McKinley in the spring."

The sixth grader was holding hands with a friend when they ran onto Ellis Street outside McKinley after school and into the path of a passing van. The van struck Martinez and caused the other girl to fall backward and hit her head.

Police said the driver, who swerved in an attempt to avoid the girls, wasn't at fault.

Mercy suffered severe injuries and was flown to the Oakland hospital where she was in the intensive care for several days. She had surgery to remove swelling on the brain and other treatment for leg and arm injuries.

Harris said he spent time with Mercy this week at her home and that she is "lucid and is eager to return to school."

Mercy's injuries, which were witnessed by several school officials and children, sparked an effort to help her mother and three siblings during the holidays.

Friends from the school opened a bank account and community members donated Christmas gifts, household items, cash and gift cards to assist the family.

An account at the Petaluma branch of Umpqua Bank, formerly Circle Bank, has raised more than $3,000, Harris said.

Police Lt. Tim Lyons delivered a carload of presents to the family on Christmas eve. Whole Foods grocery, just a few blocks from the school, donated bags of groceries during the winter break, Harris said, and the Elks Lodge donated Christmas dinner supplies.

St. James Catholic Church donated Christmas gifts for Mercy, her mother and her siblings, a 14-year-old brother, 8-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother.

Harris said friends and school staff, including her teacher, Amy Delao, have visited Mercy at home as she recuperates.

"Mercy is eager to get back to school," he said.

Donations can still be made at any Circle Bank branch to the "Mercy Fund." For more information on the fund: 707-559-7200.

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or

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