A 16-year-old boy who was critically injured when a car plowed into him Monday morning waited about 90 minutes in nearby shrubs before he was discovered by a tow truck driver.
Justin Carey was in critical condition Monday night at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.
He had been standing near the intersection of Northeast 82nd Avenue and Northeast 289th Street waiting for the school bus to take him to Battle Ground High School. Just after 7 a.m., a Nissan Maxima heading south on Northeast 82nd Avenue left the roadway and traveled into the ditch, crashing into a fence and some brush.
Clark County Fire & Rescue medics found the driver, Shaun Johnson, 46, of Vancouver, conscious and alert. She was transported to PeaceHealth with a broken arm.
Johnson didn’t tell anyone, however, that she had hit a boy and no one else witnessed the crash, deputies said.
“For whatever reason, (Carey) wasn’t yelling at the time and the information from the driver didn’t indicate there were any other victims,” Clark County Fire & Rescue Capt. Mike Jackson said. “These are situations that get tough.”
It wasn’t until Charles Barrett, a tow truck operator with Clark County Towing, had loaded up Johnson’s Nissan and was doing a final lap around the crash site an hour and a half later that he heard a faint “Help.”
“The last thing I do before leaving an accident scene is walk from where they went into the ditch to where the car stopped, to make sure I get all the debris and don’t leave any personal effects behind,” he said.
While doing this, he heard the cry for help. He called back to the voice several times before finally finding Carey only 5 feet away from where the wrecked car was, Barrett said.
He called 911 and Carey was taken by Life Flight helicopter to PeaceHealth, where he underwent surgery for his injuries: Both femurs were broken and his femoral artery, a main artery in the thigh, was severed, Carey’s mother Janette Chumley said.
“I didn’t understand how somebody could hit someone and not know it,” said Chumley, adding that her teenage son is 6 feet tall. She received the call about the accident while she was at work. “I just hope everybody comes out of it OK.”
Gregg Herrington, spokesman for Battle Ground Public Schools, confirmed that Carey is a student at Battle Ground High School and also a junior ROTC member.
Chumley said her son will be in the hospital for a minimum of three weeks.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Homicide Unit, which also investigates serious-injury crashes, is continuing its investigatiion of the crash. No citations have been issued and no arrests have been made.
Sgt. Fred Neiman said that the team is considering impairment as a possible cause of the crash though he said it was too early to say for sure. He anticipated that legal action would follow in the next few days.