After crash in Ogden killed her unborn baby, mom rebuilds by opening new restaurant
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Julia Resto was 27 weeks pregnant when Andrew Reardon, who was driving under the influence of drugs, crashed into her car along Buffalo Road in Ogden.
“I could see the headlights and I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think he’s going to stop, he’s not going to stop,” she recalls.
That was the last thing she remembers.
Resto spent seven days in a coma. Doctors were able to save her life but the baby in her belly didn’t make it. Her family took a picture of her holding little Azaria Rose while she was in a coma. They are a keepsake she treasures.
“I had to have a hysterectomy, so, I can’t have any more children,” she tells News10NBC. “I also broke my back. My colon and my ureter we’re both cut and damaged. They did an emergency C-section to try to save Azaria and that didn’t work and I lost a lot of blood and I actually coded 3 times.”
Resto’s recovery continues even today both physically and mentally especially considering she doesn’t feel like justice has been served.
“I definitely thought that it would be harsher you know for sure, especially a baby,” she says.
Reardon pleaded guilty to vehicular assault for Resto’s injuries but he did not face charges for the death of baby Azaria.
“It was because of him. There was no other reason other than the fact that he did not stop at the stop sign. My baby should be here,” she says. “In my eyes, he definitely should have been charged with her murder, but New York State determined that she was a stillbirth.”
The nuance of the law in New York was already hard to deal with but in the spirit of moving forward with her life for the sake of her other children, Resto accepted it and in August of 2022, Reardon was sentenced to 1-3 years in state prison.“
“I was expecting at least one, I was hoping for three, I think he got off really light to begin with,” Resto says.
The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office says that had Azaria taken a breath after birth, the charges could have been upgraded but because she was medically considered a still birth, they were not able to charge Reardon for causing her death.
The accident happened in November of 2020, the day after Reardon checked himself into a detox center and then went to a 30-day inpatient facility. He completed an outpatient program in October of 2021 and pleaded guilty in July of 2022. Reardon was sentenced in August and less than five months later Resto got a letter from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision letting her know that he will go in front of the parole board in April.
“That’s not even a whole year and it’s just absurd to me. It was just hard. It was hard to read,” she says through tears. “Just one more jab at me. I just feel more and more that I’m not getting justice.”
Resto and her family members plan to write letters to the parole board asking it to deny Reardon’s first opportunity at parole.
As a way to channel her grief and depression, Resto cooks. She started catering events the summer after the crash and last month, decided to use the settlement money she got from the crash to open PhatGirl Foods on Dewey Avenue in Rochester.
“I need to do something that is going to provide for my kids for one, and for two I need to have her legacy live on,” Resto says. “That’s my baby and she will always be my last baby and I was like this is a once in a lifetime chance, and I really just need to make it work.”
If you stop at PhatGirl Foods, you’ll see a small area of the restaurant with Azaria’s picture and story. It serves as motivation for her mom, to keep moving forward.
“I just carry her with me and do the best I can do with what I have and hopefully it works,” Resto says.
More information on PhatGirl Foods: https://www.facebook.com/phatgirlfoods/