Ferndale woman still fighting for her life after hit and run



Bellingham police traffic officers Al Wright, left and BJ Ortega take measurements on East Chestnut Street next to the Bellingham Herald building Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, the site of a hit and run accident Sunday Nov. 24 that left Emma Lee Briceno of Ferndale in critical condition.


BELLINGHAM - An investigation into a hit and run that left a Ferndale mother fighting for her life continued Thursday, Dec. 5, with police mapping out a crash scene that spans a city block.

Twelve days after a black car struck Emma Lee Briceno, 25, on Chestnut Street, she remains in intensive care with brain swelling at Haborview Medical Center in Seattle.

She was walking south in the crosswalk at Railroad Avenue around 1:45 a.m. Nov. 24 when a Lincoln LS ran a red light and struck a Jimmy John's delivery car, then Briceno, police said. She flipped over the Lincoln, but the driver kept going, hitting a parallel-parked truck more than 100 feet uphill.

Two men claiming to be passengers in the car called police hours later on a cellphone near a gas station on 32nd Street. They named Cory Ira Mezo, 29, of Custer, as the driver. They'd demanded to be let out after the crash, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Mezo and both passengers are felons.

The car was found abandoned in a parking lot near Western Washington University. Within the hour police arrested Mezo at his father's home, within Ferndale city limits.

Prosecutors have since charged Mezo with vehicular assault, driving with a license suspended in the first degree and three counts of hit and run.

Forensics specialists blocked off two lanes of East Chestnut near the Herald Building for about an hour Thursday to map out the crash scene. Sgt. Jason Monson said police also are sifting through text messages on Mezo's phone and evidence from the car.

Briceno has three young children.

A Whatcom Educational Credit Union fund has been set up, account 326058, to help the Briceno family. Outside of Whatcom County, people can donate to Industrial Credit Union account 66931.

Reach Caleb Hutton at caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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