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Mother of hit-and-run victim comments on bail being raised for suspect

The family of Melanie Azterbaum has not left her bedside at Desert Regional Medical Center for an entire week.

Her mother says she is doing better but she is not out of the woods yet.

Arvinder Singh Cheema stood before a judge Thursday for his arraignment. Cheema is accused of hitting 40-year-old Azterbaum near Candy Cane Lane last week with his car and fleeing the scene.

Read: Woman struck by hit-and-run driver near Candy Cane Lane in Cathedral City

Prosecutors say Cheema is a flight risk based on statements Cheema made to investigators.

“The Cathedral City Police Department officer indicated that should he get out of jail that he is going to go to India,” said Judge Harold W. Hopp.

Cheema has Indian citizenship and family living in that country. Originally Cheema’s bail amount was $50,000 the judge decided to raise it to $300,000.

Read: Bail raised for Candy Cane Lane hit-and-run suspect

KESQ / CBS Local 2’s Joe Galli spoke with the mother of Azterbaum, Sandra Gutierrez, at Desert Regional. She says her daughter is doing better but still needs a lot of treatment.

“They discovered she has a significant blood clot in her broken leg and they are treating it with I believe with Heprin to get rid of it it is very painful,” Gutierrez said. “Otherwise, she is doing a little bit better, but she is having headaches, so they are doing a CAT scan to make sure there is no bleeding in her brain still.”

Gutierrez said she was shocked to hear Cheema made statements to police about taking off to India if he was released.

“I can’t believe him. I can just not believe that he can do something like that and have no responsibility for it my family is infuriated,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said her daughter is very thankful to all the witnesses who came forward and to the police officers who tracked down the man accused of putting her in the hospital.

Cheema is scheduled to be back in court on January 9.

KESQ News Team


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