Santa's sleigh in this case was a police cruiser.
A badly injured 11-year-old Petaluma girl received a carload of early Christmas presents Monday from friends, strangers and Petaluma police concerned about her after she was struck by a van after school a week ago.
Mercy Martinez remains at Oakland Children's Hospital following the collision on Dec. 18.
The sixth grader and a friend were holding hands when they ran onto Ellis Street outside McKinley Elementary School, police said. They apparently ran out into the path a passing van, which struck Martinez and caused the other girl to fall and hit her head.
Mercy suffered more serious injuries and has been in the intensive care unit for the past week in Oakland. She has had surgery to remove swelling on the brain and a leg and arm are also seriously injured.
He said Mercy doesn't remember anything about the accident. Police determined the driver wasn't at fault.
Shortly after the accident, friends from McKinley school opened a bank account to help Mercy, her mother and three siblings, and community members began asking where they could donate Christmas gifts.
"Sometimes the police department gets donations and we can't accept them, so we usually give them to a charity," Lt. Tim Lyons said from Oakland, where he played Santa on Monday. "We thought we'd give them to Mercy's family."
Lyons delivered a carload of presents — including a large stuffed pink and purple gorilla — and household items donated in the past week.
"My passenger seat, the back seat and the trunk were completely full," he said.
In addition to brightening Mercy's holiday a bit, Lyons said folks also wanted to ease the stress for her mother, who struggles to find transportation to the hospital from her west Petaluma residence.
"All their relatives are out of the area, so she really didn't have any help," Lyons said.
Mercy has a 14-year-old brother, an 8-year-old sister and a 4-year-old brother. He said the other children went to Southern California to spend the holiday.
"Her mother said they didn't have anything for Christmas and this was a great surprise," Lyons said after dropping off the gifts.
Also donated was about $600 in cash and several gift cards for groceries and other items.
An account to help the family has been set up at the Petaluma branch of Umpqua Bank, formerly Circle Bank. Manager Paula Houts said donations can be made at any 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 email@example.com.)