Child, 9, saved in alleged DUI crash wants mom remembered as hero

PHILADELPHIA -- Nine-year-old Leani Perez wants everyone to know that her mom is a hero.

"I heard somebody scream, 'The car's going to hit the cart.' And my mom pushed me. When she tried to push my brother, it was too late," Leani said.

Leani was with her mom, 28-year-old Rosa Lydia Rojas, and her 7-year-old brother Jadiyn Saturday night. They were walking along the 3500 block of Aramingo Avenue in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia after getting a bite to eat.

That's when an SUV allegedly driven by 39-year-old Ryan McHugh jumped the curb, barreling toward them.

Instinctively, Rosa pushed Leani and then acted as a human shield to protect Jadiyn.

"When I fell in the grass, I put my hands over my head. When I came back up, I saw my brother and my mom," Leani told Action News Monday with tears running down her face.

Rosa Lydia Rojas was killed. Jadiyn was badly injured.

Rosa's mother, Rosita, says that while she will never get over the loss of her daughter, she always knew that Rosa was the kind of woman who would willingly give her life for her kids.

"My baby's a hero. She saved her babies. She couldn't save herself, but she saved her babies," Rosita said.

After the deadly crash, witnesses held McHugh until police arrived.

Leani had a message for those good Samaritans and for all the first responders who tried to save her mom.

"I want to thank the people who came to support my mom and the police officers that caught the man that hurt my mom," Leani said.

Jadiyn remains hospitalized, but continues to recover.

A GoFundMe Page has been set up to help the family pay for the cost of Rosa's funeral.


Send a breaking news alert
Report a correction or typo
Learn more about the 6abc apps
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.