Broward Sheriff's Office: Public Information Office

PIO Number: 23-11-14

Date: Nov. 21, 2023


A young girl recently learned how to walk again after she was hit by an impaired driver. When Eugenie “Gigi” Lara turned 11 years old in October, she didn’t have a party, cake or presents because she was in the hospital recovering from the multiple serious injuries she suffered during the head-on collision. Now the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Oakland Park community is rallying around her and surprised her with the birthday bash she deserves. A video of the event can be found in the photo above or HERE.

On Sunday, Aug. 27, Gigi and her mother, Jessica Aguirre, were on their way to church when they were struck by a vehicle as they were traveling eastbound approaching Northeast Fourth Avenue in Oakland Park. Their lives changed instantly in that moment. 

“I remember I said, ‘please just save her.’ I don’t care about me I just care about my daughter,” Jessica said.

Dep. Mercado was one the first responders to arrive on scene. Having four young daughters himself, he couldn’t help but find the parallels between Gigi and his own children.

“I saw a lot of similarities between Gigi and my children. When I went to the scene all I saw were my children in that car seat,” Dep. Mercado said. 

He kept in touch with them, even while Gigi was in the hospital and undergoing at least eight surgeries. She is now learning to walk again.

“That day that I responded to their crash, I wasn’t supposed to be at work. I just happened to be working overtime that evening,” Dep. Mercado said. “I want them to know that there are individuals out there who care, I am one of them and BSO is one of them. They are both a part of my family now.”

What started as a small gesture to buy a few birthday presents, turned into much more. Dep. Mercado and Dep. Zaida Rojas-Bello, who is part of BSO’s Neighborhood Support Team (NST) in Oakland Park, along with other BSO staff, Oakland Park Fire Rescue and numerous community members planned a surprise birthday party at BSO’s district office. On November 16th, they got together and celebrated Gigi; they celebrated life. While Gigi’s road to recovery will be long, she will have her new BSO friends and family by her side.

Miranda Grossman/PIO