■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor
A West Valley High School student was struck and critically injured March 24 in an early morning collision near the intersection of Mustang Way and Morgan Hill Road near the school. The student, 16-year-old Nick Tusant, was in a marked crosswalk when struck by a 2002 Dodge Dakota pickup truck driven by a 71-year-old Hemet man.
Hemet Police officers responded to the 6:28 a.m. collision and found Tusant unconscious with severe injuries. He was transported to a local trauma center by a LifeFlight air ambulance, and is listed in critical condition. The driver of the truck was cooperative with investigators, said Hemet Police Department Sgt. Dan Reinbold. The driver of the truck said he simply did not see the student crossing the road. Investigators have no reason to believe the driver was under the influence at the time of the incident.
A GoFundMe account has been set up in his name to assist with medical and rehabilitative expenses. According to the GoFundMe post, Tusant suffered severe head injuries and is in ICU at Riverside County Regional Medical Center Trauma Center.
Hemet Unified School District Superintendent Christi Barrett and West Valley Principal Dr. Janice Jones went to the hospital to be by the side of Tusant’s family, said Alex Cass, HUSD spokeswoman.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the student and family at this time,” said Cass. “We urge all of our community members to obey the speed limit around our schools to ensure the safety of our students.”
The community has also come out in force in support of Tusant and his family, and of the safety hazards at the corner of Mustang Way and Morgan Hill Road. A change.org petition is making the cyber-rounds, requesting a stop sign at the intersection. A prayer circle was held Saturday evening in front of West Valley High School, and members of Hemet Fire Department’s Engine 4, one of whom responded to the tragedy, were there in support of the family. Hemet Councilwoman Karlee Meyer also came to show her support for the family.
Counseling services are available for West Valley students affected by this incident. Please drive safely, especially around schools and areas with high volumes of pedestrians.
Contact the Hemet Police Department Traffic Division at (951) 765-2400 if you have information regarding this incident.