Pepe’s employee in critical condition

Photo by Alma Garcia

Photo by Alma Garcia

Sam Garcia is known to many in the community as the friendly bartender at Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina where he’s worked since May 2014. On Thursday, September 29, Sam was hospitalized in critical condition after the vehicle he was in was struck by a drunk driver.

Sam was in the backseat of a Toyota Corolla when it was broadsided by a Ford Explorer on Newport Rd. around 2 a.m. The passenger in the front seat of the Corolla was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The driver was released from the hospital the following day.

The driver of the Ford Explorer was driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI. He fled the scene of the accident on foot, but was later found by police at his home.

According to Sam’s sister Alma, Sam is still in critical condition and under heavy sedation. He has a broken femur and hip, a fracture on his face, bruised ribs and a head injury. He is under heavy sedation at Inland Valley Medical Center. Alma says, “At this time, the only visitors allowed are family members.”

Jeanne O’Dell, Sam’s employer at Pepe’s, is planning a fundraiser for him. Jeanne says, “We love our Sam. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

A gofundme account has been set up to help Sam with his medical expenses. If you’d like to make a donation, visit