The condition of Jalen Lee, the Central Middle School who was struck by a pickup truck Monday morning, has been upgraded from critical to good, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The evaluation was made after Jalen, 13, underwent surgery Tuesday morning for a broken thigh bone at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, according to updates from the family provided to Central Principal Randy Gratz.
While Jalen also suffered a ruptured spleen, a broken rib and a collapsed lung, Gratz said he’s been informed that the student did not suffer head injuries, considered a significant factor in his improved condition.
Investigators say dark and rainy conditions shortly after 7 a.m. Monday made it difficult for driver Kyle McLeod, 51, to see the teen as he walked across Marr Road shortly after 7 a.m. to his bus stop near Columbus East High School.
Emergency dispatchers received three calls about the accident within one minute, according to audio released by Columbus police.
In the first call, an emotional McLeod could be heard telling authorities that he had struck a teenager. The second call came from a frantic young girl. The third was made by a Columbus East administrator.
The accident occurred at the crosswalk across South Marr Road that links the main campus at Columbus East to the athletic complexes in Clifty Park.
In a January interview with The Republic, Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix specifically mentioned that crosswalk as one of the most dangerous areas for students in the city.
In June 2011, Columbus East junior Taylor Chitty was struck by a vehicle at that location. After spending several months recuperating from her injuries, the daughter of East High School basketball coach Brent Chitty created a safety video as her senior class
Maddix said the video created by Taylor Chitty, now a 19-year-old graduate, was credited for the installation of six flashing yellow strobe lights at five locations in the city.
He is the chairman of a new committee that will examine ways to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users in Columbus.
Meanwhile, three of Jalen’s classmates sought counseling Monday after news of the accident broke, Gratz said. However, no Central students requested counseling Tuesday.
Gratz credits teachers and administrators, who have worked to keep students informed whenever they receive updates on Jalen’s condition, for the reduced demand for counseling.
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