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PO bicyclist still ‘fighting to stay alive,’ mom says

A 19-year-old Port Orchard man is still hospitalized and only recently woke up from a coma after hitting a road sign last month while riding home on his bicycle.

“He’s fighting to stay alive,” said Ethel Gray, the mother of the victim, explaining that her son came out of the coma Saturday, nearly two weeks after crashing on his bicycle June 29.

“He’s getting better, but he’s not talking and he can’t do anything for himself,” she said. “He will need to learn how to eat all over again.”

Gray said her son, who was not wearing a helmet the night he crashed, suffered “deep-tissue trauma” to his brain after hitting his head on the pavement.

“I’ll make sure he wears a helmet from now on,” she said.

Gray’s son was found shortly before 11 p.m. June 29 on Phillips Road near Sedgwick Road by two women who saw him lying partly in the road.

“It was called into CenCom as a hit-and-run,” said Gray.

However, when a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy arrived on-scene, he did not see any evidence of the victim or his bicycle being struck by a car, according to the incident report.

“There was nothing to indicate to the officer that this had been a hit-and-run,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson. “The front tire was flat, but there was (no definitive evidence of a hit-and-run.) With vehicle strikes, there’s some pretty tell-tale evidence of what occurred.”

Based on the “Road Work Ahead” sign knocked down several feet away, the deputy noted that it appeared the victim struck the sign before crashing. Wilson said the deputy immediately called for an ambulance, then after observing that the victim was “gurgling,” he asked for assistance from the two women to roll the victim over.

“He then speculated that the man had been drinking, based on the fact that he was snoring, and never talked or opened his eyes,” Wilson said, explaining that the deputy took photographs of the scene, but left soon after South Kitsap Fire and Rescue personnel arrived due to receiving a priority call.

Gray said her son was not drunk that night, and that “a toxicology report done on him” revealed he had not been drinking.

“This has been very frustrating for me,” she said. “We believe it was a hit-and-run.”

Wilson said the incident is not being investigated as a crime, but traffic investigators are reviewing the evidence.

“We retrieved the bicycle and examined it,” he said.

Gray said she was also upset that no one notified her following the accident, and she did not learn what happened to her son until the following day when she filed a missing person’s report.

Wilson said his office is looking into what happened that night and why the victim’s family was not called.

“Typically, it’s always been done by (the fire department), the coroner’s office or the hospital,” he said. “We all realize there’s something not right about this, and we need to revisit our policy on that.”

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