San Diego

Surprise Christmas Gift for Escondido Hit and Run Victim With Autism

The gift comes from a pool of money raised through the Escondido Charitable Foundation

As the search continues for the driver who hit a man with autism, Escondido Police wanted to brighten his spirits, just in time for Christmas.

Like all police departments, Escondido Police officers have the training to solve crimes, help find justice for victims and keep the community safe.

But once a year, they're given the power to make Christmas wishes come true through the city's Secret Santa Program.

This year, Officer Mike Nelson wished Bobby Walker a Merry Christmas on Thursday, with his hand full of three $100 bills.

"It’s nice. It’s good to see a smile and hopefully they have a better holiday as a result,” Nelson said.

Walker, has autism, but works hard to live independently, his mom told NBC 7.

On Dec. 8, he was struck by a driver as he crossed S Juniper Street on his way to the bus stop. He needed surgery to repair damage to his arm and suffered several bruises and cuts from the crash.

The driver did not stop, police said.

Nelson is the officer investigating the hit-and-run.

"It’s the holiday season so I thought it would be really nice for him to be able to have that little extra something to bring his spirits up a bit,” Nelson said.

The gift comes from a pool of money raised through the Escondido Charitable Foundation. It funds the police department's three-year old secret Santa program. 

According to Lt. Ed Varso, the program has one goal, to "go out and make a positive difference."

Varso told NBC 7 that most times, officers meet community members at their worst moment. But Secret Santa gifting is usually the best moment, for both.

“The police officer walks away and there is something really incredible about feeling like I just made a really nice difference in this person’s life,” Varso said.

It’s certainly made a difference in Walker's holiday.

“I was okay with the 300 dollars,” he said.

Walker is still recovering but is doing well.

Witnesses describe the car that hit Walker as an older model, silver, four door Nissan Sentra or Maxima with clear taillight covers.

So far, police have few leads but hope the community can help.

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