Family, friends rally around car accident victim

In a fight for his life, Auburn resident gets a little backup
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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Jerome Nelson Recovery Fund

To donate to the fund, visit

Days after a car accident left 38-year-old Jerome Nelson fighting for his life, the positivity of friends and family is his strongest lifeline.

Nelson, an Auburn resident, was a passenger in a southbound Corvette on Highway 49 on Sunday when the driver, Phillip Cazares of Grass Valley, made a sudden left turn into oncoming traffic. The Corvette was broadsided by a Ford F-150 and launched into a drainage ditch. Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to pull Nelson and Cazares and flown separately to Sutter Roseville Medical Center in serious condition for severe internal injuries. Nelson lost a leg and faces many surgeries.

Helpless to expedite Nelson’s recovery, a few of his fellow classmates from the Placer High School class of ’92 came together to start a fundraiser to lighten the burden of his medical expenses. Teresa Thomas, a member of the class reunion committee, said she organized the online fundraiser with classmate Heidi Delvalle, having done other fundraisers in the past for classmates in need or during local emergencies like the 49 Fire.

“We got together with each other and said, ‘We have to do it again,’ and this time we thought about doing it online like a viral campaign, so people could spread the word easily through Facebook or email just so we could go as quickly as possible and reach as many donors as possible,” she said. “It’s looking better and better, hour by hour … so we just wanted to get a jump start in helping the family and him with any medical expenses, any recovery expenses for rehabilitation and physical therapy, because he’ll need lots of it when he comes out of the hospital.”

The website had accrued $625 from 21 donors by Thursday evening. Charity Mapa-Hendrickson, a friend of Nelson’s since elementary school, said even more important than the money was the “crazy” amount of feedback and positive feelings.

“In the beginning they didn’t think he was going to make it, and his family and friends completely rallied around him,” she said. “It’s just overwhelming the amount of feedback and positive feelings that are going out for him, candle lighting and stuff like that, and then there’s Facebook … It’s really amazing what’s going on.”

Mapa-Hendrickson said the family was extremely happy with the community support they’ve received so far, and though Nelson has a long road to recovery, they’re beginning to feel their sentiments will help him through.

“We believe that part of the reason he’s still here is because of all of us supporting him,” she said. “Jerome is a wonderful person. Just the fact that he’s still here is a testament to his will and stubbornness … He just needs everybody to believe he’s going to make it. He needs everybody to say a prayer, if they believe in God, and everybody to believe that he’s going to be OK.”