A father of four is still in critical care following a shooting incident on the 5 Freeway, which occurred during a rash of gun violence.
Noel Pena, 48, was hit by a vehicle on New Year’s Eve while driving. His armpit was the point of entry for the bullet, which broke his collarbone and lodged shards in his esophagus.
“It’s something no one expects,” said Pamela Pena, the victim’s daughter. “Like, I’ve heard about it and I’m like, ‘Wow, people are so ruthless out there doing these types of things.’ It’s not normal, should not be normal, to find out it happened to us.”
After spending the day at the Sante Fe Springs Swap Meet, Noel was returning home with his wife, daughter, and niece on New Year’s Eve. Just north of Carmenita Road in Norwalk, the family was returning home to East Los Angeles at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon when they witnessed what seemed like a gray Honda SUV swerve into their lane.
Their vehicle was nearly hit by the suspect. Under the suspect driver’s yelling, Noel honked his horn. As Noel drove away, the two got into an argument, but according to his family, the suspect persisted in following them in his vehicle.
Out of nowhere, the criminal sped by him on the left and shot twice at the driver’s side window. Noel drew over to the shoulder of the highway when he felt the bullet hit him. He started to feel dizzy and his blood pressure was dropping rapidly.
“My cousin sitting in the backseat said, ‘I never expected a human to do that to anyone here,’” Pamela said. “She came from Mexico to visit and it was the last thing she expected to happen.”
As Noel lay bleeding on the side of the roadway, a nurse who happened to be driving by decided to pull over and offer him assistance. According to Pamela, the nurse assisted in controlling Noel’s bleeding while they awaited the arrival of EMS.
With life-threatening complications, he was rushed to the hospital. According to Pamela, her father’s life was spared because of the nurse. “He had to get like eight units of blood, I think,” Pamela said.
“I didn’t know how much that was until I researched it and that’s basically what one human body has — 8-10 units of blood. Like, how is it possible that he’s here with us today?” According to the California Highway Patrol, road rage incidents seem to be on the rise.
“It’s very important not to play into the issue at hand,” advises Alec Pereyda, a CHP officer. “If you feel that you’re part of a road rage incident, don’t instigate the situation, don’t make things worse, just continue on your way.”
Noel, meantime, is still recovering following major surgery and is connected to a breathing tube. He has an uphill struggle on the path to recovery, but his family is grateful he’s alive. All four of Noel’s girls are eagerly anticipating his return home.
“This could happen to anyone,” Pamela said. “It happened to my father who it should not have happened to. He’s such a good guy and he honestly doesn’t deserve this. Be cautious out there because we sadly live in a world where this will happen.”
We still don’t know who the driver is. On December 31st, between 3 and 3:30 p.m., close to the Carmenita Road exit, authorities are looking for dash cam footage or film shot by a Tesla camera.
The California Examiner is your best bet for up-to-the-minute coverage of all things happening in the Golden State.
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