Child hurt in crash remains in coma

Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2000

A 9-year-old Juneau boy injured in a vehicle rollover Sunday is in serious condition at a Seattle hospital today.

Jeremy Nelson was not a passenger in the collision, which involved a white, four-door sedan operated by a boy, 16, and a pickup truck operated by a man, 18. He was standing on the edge of Mendenhall Loop Road about 8 p.m. Sunday when the car turned left in front of the oncoming pickup and collided with it, causing the pickup to roll over. The truck landed on the child, who was preparing to cross the street, said Marion Patterson.

The accident was witnessed by Jamie Matthews, who was working on his truck across the street. Helping Matthews was Patterson's daughter, Zaruba Wolf. Wolf saw Jeremy, whom she knew, skipping down the bike path "playing Batman or something." Then she left to fetch a flashlight.

When Wolf returned a few minutes later, she saw there had been an accident. Matthews cautioned her, "Don't go over there; a boy is hurt."

"Oh, no, it's Jeremy," Wolf said.

"Jamie and Zaruba were pretty shook up. Zaruba had to go and get Craig (Jeremy's father) and notify him. There have been a lot of tears around here," Patterson said.

According to what Patterson learned from Matthews, the car's driver had no choice. "The white car was getting ready to make a turn (onto Tongass Boulevard), and there was oncoming traffic. He saw Jeremy practically on the sidewalk and couldn't go to the right, so he decided to hit the truck instead. The truck went airborne and landed on the boy," she said.

Jeremy's father, Craig Nelson, is a cook at Tabby's. Marion Patterson is one of his co-workers there.

"He is still in a coma," said Craig Nelson this morning. He said Jeremy has not regained consciousness since the accident.

"He had surgery Monday to put his collarbones, hip and arm back in place," Nelson said. "I am trying my damnedest to go there tonight."

Jeremy's mother, Debbie Stevens, the former wife of Craig, is with Jeremy in Seattle. But Craig, 39, could not afford to go immediately to his son's bedside.

Jeremy was taken by ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital where he was diagnosed with a head injury, a fracture of the right arm and a possible bruised spleen. Just before midnight Sunday, he was medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He is a patient in Harborview's pediatric intensive care unit. "He is in serious condition," said Harborview spokesman Marsha Rule today.

Jeremy is a fourth grader at Glacier Valley Elementary School. He is the youngest of four children. His older siblings are boys, 11 and 14, and a girl, 17, said Craig Nelson.

The accident is still under investigation, said Sgt. Troy Wilson of the Juneau Police Department. As of 10 a.m. today, no charges had been filed in the matter and the drivers' names had not been released, Wilson said.

Patterson is coordinating the raising of funds to fly Craig Nelson to Seattle. Donations may be made to Gennetta Harris at Tabby's restaurant in the Mendenhall Mall.



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