■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
Easter is a time for miracles, and nobody is praying for a miracle more than Jessica and Richard Tusant. Their son, Nick, 16, a student at West Valley High School, was hit by a truck driven by an elderly man while crossing the street on his way to school March 24. Nick was believed to be walking in the crosswalk at the time of the accident, and the intersection has been the site of several pedestrian accidents.
Nick remains in critical condition in the ICU ward of Riverside County Regional Medical Center’s trauma unit in Moreno Valley. He has regained the ability to breathe on his own, but for how long remains to be seen, said Robert Karwin, a Menifee attorney representing the family.
Cards, letters, and drawings sent in by classmates, friends and unknown well wishers paper his hospital room walls. His parents pray that their son, who loves heavy metal music (Metallica is one of his favorite bands) and graphic novels, especially “The Punisher,” will one day soon open his eyes and read all the get-well wishes.
Operations that could help Nick were scheduled for Good Friday, but were rescheduled for April 17, which were then bumped to April 19, said mom Jessica via Facebook. While she is disappointed that the procedures were postponed, she has faith that the delays are a positive sign – that perhaps just the right set of circumstances are around the corner and that her son will indeed awaken soon and begin the long process of recovery.
The community has shown an outpouring of support, as evidenced by Jessica’s Facebook posts. One anonymous person cleaned their driveway and mowed their front yard – a gesture that warmed the Tusant’s hearts after another long day at the hospital. Lillian Greenland Salon in Hemet has promised to dedicate the proceeds from haircuts during the month of May to help pay for Nick’s medical bills. Random acts of kindness such as these prove that goodness – and good people – still exist in our valley.
“Richard Tusant and I cannot thank everyone enough for the love and prayers and support from everyone. Please continue to pray for Nick Tusant,” Jessica wrote Tuesday morning on her Facebook page. “Everyone is just amazing.”
Several candlelight vigils have been held to show Nick’s family that the community supports them. Teena Riley, a Hemet resident, is behind a petition initiative to have a stop sign installed at the intersection of Mustang Way and Morgan Hill Road, where Nick was struck. Several other students have been hit at this intersection over the years. While a stop sign may be the preferred solution, traffic may need to be reengineered or speed humps might be a better solution. The petition, however, is a start.
“So far we’ve got more than 650 signatures,” said Riley. “I’ve been out to the site and I see the city’s concern with the proximity to the stop light at Sanderson and Mustang but something further needs to be done. When the first accident involving three students occurred, the city installed the lighted crosswalk, which was progress with regard to the information they had at the time. However, now that things have evolved and another serious injury accident has taken place, we need to address the issue of people not driving safely for the conditions and we need to also get the schools involved as far as educating the students to their responsibility to be more aware of their surroundings when walking to and from school.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up in his name to assist with medical and rehabilitative expenses. To date, more than $7,700 has been raised. GoFundMe takes 7.9 percent of donations as administrative fees. To sign the petition for a stop sign at the intersection of Mustang Way and Morgan Hill Road, please go to Change.org and search for “stop sign at Mustang Way and Morgan Hill Road.”