UPDATE: Vancouver man, 21, fights for his life after accident

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

Published:

Updated: November 30, 2012, 8:27 PM

 

Joseph Reilly has a “brilliant mind” and a lot of creativity, and “is one of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet,” Aaron Hahn, his cousin, said Friday.

Hahn, along with other family members and staff at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, met with media to update the public on the 21-year-old’s condition three days after he was hit by a car Tuesday afternoon on the Hazel Dell strip.

According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Annastasia Morrison, 20, of Vancouver lost control of her speeding 2006 Mazda MX6 4-door sedan on Highway 99 near Northeast 72nd Street. Reilly was walking to work at Smokey’s Hot Oven Pizza at 2:52 p.m. when he was hit by the Mazda. He was thrown across 72nd Street by the impact, landing in the parking lot of Collins Plaza, an office complex. He was transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

The car then hit a post, which tore it in half, killing Morrison, said traffic homicide Detective James Payne.

Reilly survived but with “massive injuries,” including a brain contusion and a “tremendously bad” pelvis fracture, said Dr. George Dulabon, the PeaceHealth trauma surgeon who first treated him. Dulabon said doctors removed part of Reilly’s skull to relieve pressure on his brain as it swells and heals. He’ll have several surgeries to keep his fractured bones clean and aligned, but Dulabon said he’s been stabilized and has a chance at recovery.

“The most important issue now is making sure the brain function returns,” he said.

Reilly’s age is on his side.

“The good thing is, he’s 21 years old, and that’s why he has a better chance than, say, an old guy like me,” Dulabon said. “The brain function in young folks has a much better chance (of recovery) after a major injury.”

Reilly’s cousin Hahn said the family is very appreciative to first responders for their work in keeping Reilly alive. He said they’re also grateful for community support.

“I know that he would be beyond thrilled to see the support that he’s receiving from the community right now and the prayers that are out there,” Hahn said. “It means a lot to us, and I’m certain it would mean the world to him.”

Hahn said he spent a lot of time with his cousin as a kid. They spent a lot of time playing video games — back when they “were really cool,” Hahn said.

Reilly went to high school in Arizona before returning to the Vancouver area about two years ago.

Hahn said the family asks anyone with more information on the crash to call the sheriff’s office.

People can donate to the “Fund for Joseph M. Reilly” at any TwinStar Credit Union branch to help pay his bills.