The drive from the Learning Center to the Gutierrez’s former home was a short one, so I never minded driving the kids home after a day at the center. The car ride would be filled with the kids requesting for me to play Andy Mineo’s song “Uno Uno Seis” so they could dance to it. The four kids excitedly talked over one another so they could share a joke or something they learned at school that day with me. Once I pulled up to the curb, they would hop out and wave good-bye as they ran to the front door to eagerly greet their mother, Cristina.
That day in October was different though. This time as I pulled up to the curb, I noticed the front door was open and three ladies were standing by it. Cristina was nowhere in sight. My stomach immediately lurched. As the kids went to unbuckle, I asked them to just wait until I knew what was going on- there was no chatter, just silence. Their young neighbor came to my car and told me that she was going to take the kids into her house next door. “Is Cristina okay?” She slowly shook her head, “No.”
As I walked inside their home, I noticed pools of blood on the floor and was careful to step around them as I looked for Cristina. There she stood with a look of disbelief, shock, and pain on her face. She had a huge gash on her top left forehead and her lower lip was cut open; both wounds were still bleeding. I’ve never seen a sight more heartbreaking or devastating in my life. There was blood on her chest, her shirt, and her pants. My first instinct was to help wipe her clean and find new clothes, but I knew that the police would need to see her like that. Cristina was shaken, but her thoughts were not on herself; rather they were on her four children: Diego, Adriana, Karina, and Gabriel. I assured her that they were next door and I would take care of them. I stayed calm as I asked Cristina, “What happened?” but I couldn’t understand her response because of the limited English she knew.
I needed Maryann, our LV Center Director, to translate. Without her we would be unable to tell her story to the police. So I called her and she quickly came to help. After the police arrived they took photos and asked me questions. I shared with them everything that had happened previous in the week- the CPS call about the abuse- and what happened when I pulled up to the house. But it wasn’t until Maryann arrived that we got the full story. Maryann then spent the next hour as a translator to help the police understand what happened. I couldn’t believe what I heard.