Sonoma Co. toddler home from the hospital after being struck by 4 time DUI offender

A Sonoma County toddler, struck by a hit-and-run driver, is back home after almost a month in the hospital.

Saphira Howerton, 2, was allegedly hit by a man with four previous DUI convictions, now facing his fifth.

"A mother's worst fear is to get that phone call that something's happened to your kid," mother April Howerton told KTVU.

Saphira spent 23 days at Oakland's Childrens Hospital, much of that time sedated with a skull fracture and internal injuries, including a collapsed lung.

"She's still on one medication for pain management," said Howerton, explaining Saphira's home regimen, which includes thickening her beverages as she heals from her time on a breathing tube.

Her parents remember when she turned the corner.

"That last time they took the tubes out we felt we had our daughter back," said April.

Now, Saphira scampers on the lawn at their Windsor apartment, chasing her dog.

She readily climbs onto her toddler bed, covered with her favorite stuffed toys.

"When she started coming off the heavy drugs in the hospital, we would see more of her personality, she would let us touch her hands, and she wanted to draw, so we saw her coming back," said father Shane Howerton.

On July 11, the couple had no idea if Saphira would even survive.

She broke away from her great-grandmother in a parking lot on Range Avenue, across from Santa Rosa's Coddingtown Mall.

Saphira stepped a few feet into traffic and was struck by a driver who kept going.

Hector Cabrales Larios, 47, remains in the Sonoma County Jail facing felony charges of DUI and hit-and-run.

Larios lost his driver's license in 2013, after a DUI conviction, but continued to drive and racked up three more DUI convictions in the years since.

Police arrested him soon after Saphira was hit, tracking Larios and his white van to his apartment nearby.

The Howertons are following his court case.

"The next time who knows what he could have done, who he could have hurt, or who he could have killed," said April.

"If you hit somebody's child, at least have the decency to stop and make sure that baby is okay."

Shane Howerton likens drunk driving to using a weapon.

"So much destruction can come from that irresponsibility," said Shane, "and I'm mad at him, but I'm also mad at the general problem, people thinking they can drink and drive."

During the family's ordeal, they were touched by an outpouring of concern: posters, prayers, and donations.

A GoFundMe set up by a relative has received more than $17,000 in contributions.

The Howertons says bills are rolling in; $68,000 alone for Saphira's medical airlift to Children's Hospital.

They are new to the Bay Area, and in new jobs without benefits yet, so dependent on Medi-Cal.

"The support we've received is overwhelming, amazing," said April, "and it made it easier for us to deal with everything that was going on."

Their new challenge is finding a place to live.

The family of three has been staying with Shane's great-grandmother since re-locating, but it is a one bedroom apartment and the landlord wants them out.

Still, they are optimistic about the future, especially since their precious girl came back to them, as smiling and adventurous as ever.

"We're just happy she's alive, and she's going to be okay," said Shane.