Home Depot helps with hit-and-run victim’s Auburn homecoming

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Amanda Barnes’ homecoming is finding plenty of support in the Auburn community. Home Depot employees are working at the 22-year-old hit-and-run victim’s home in Auburn this weekend to make it wheelchair-accessible before her return from hospital. Barnes, an Auburn native and 2007 Placer High graduate, was injured July 12 while she walked across a crosswalk in the Bay Area community of Emeryville. As Emeryville Police continue to search for a suspect, Barnes is undergoing intensive physical therapy in the Bay Area in hope of returning to her hometown of Auburn by Sept. 7. Debbie Ward, Barnes’ mother, said that the Home Depot request for help came through an aunt of Amanda’s, who works part-time at the Auburn store. Combined with some of the other community efforts, including a recent Old Town Auburn event that raised $2,900, Ward said she, Barnes and the rest of her family are finding out how willing the community can pull together to help out. “It’s amazing,” Ward said. “It’s so overwhelming that it has made me cry. I could have never imagined so many people helping and supporting in this crisis.” Home Depot employees, led by a long-time local contractor Paul Butterfield of the North Auburn store, are putting in a wheelchair-access ramp at Ward’s house and working on hallways to make them more accessible. Barnes was paralyzed in the accident and will have to use a wheelchair. “We like to help out with the community when we can,” said Billy Parino, manager on duty at Home Depot. Barnes was struck and dragged about 30 feet by the SUV. Then the SUV left the scene. Barnes recalled in a previous interview with the Journal that she could remember stepping into the cross walk and the yellow beams of the SUV approaching but not stopping. “I tried to get out of the way but from what I saw it looked like it sped up and it appeared that he did it intentionally,” Barnes said late last month. Ward said investigators have been wonderful, visiting Barnes on a weekly basis to try to continue to piece together a description. “I really honestly don’t know if they can find him,” Ward said. “They think the reward (a $5,000 reward fund has been established in Auburn) will help. They say when the reward gets to $10,000 some people will talk.”