Family hopeful Grand Rapids teen will wake from coma after hit in crosswalk

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The family of a Grand Rapids’ teenager is searching for answers, while their loved one fights for his life.

Family said Jacob Rodgers, 16, a junior at Wellspring Preparatory High School, is slowly waking from an induced coma after an SUV struck him while crossing a marked crosswalk last Tuesday just before 7:30 p.m. It happened at the busy intersection of Fuller Avenue and Sweet Street NE, when the woman driving the SUV told police by the time she saw Rodgers she was unable to stop before hitting him.

Rodgers’ family told FOX17 that Rodgers was “being a responsible pedestrian.” Rodgers does not own a cell phone, and was not wearing ear buds at the time of what police are calling an accident. Jeff Rodgers, Jacob’s father, said Rodgers was nearly half-way across the four lanes of Fuller Avenue traffic in the marked crosswalk when he was hit.

“I’m not pointing any fingers at anybody, I feel bad for this girl, but my son is up there fighting for his life right now,” said Jeff Rodgers.

Rodgers’ father spoke with investigators Monday, who told him they are looking into the SUV driver’s cell phone records. Police said they ruled out speed, alcohol, and drugs as factors in this accident.

According to Grand Rapids’ crosswalk ordinance, pedestrians have the right of way in any marked, or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except at intersections where an officer or traffic signal regulates traffic. The intersection at Fuller Avenue and Sweet Street is marked with white lines, a yellow crosswalk traffic sign, and has no traffic signal or light.

“Last night I drove through the accident site and it’s well-lit,” said Jeff Rodgers. “In the direction that the female was traveling, not only is it well-lit, one hundred feet past the crosswalk there’s double flashing yellow lights that indicates there’s a school right there.”

Monday morning, Rodgers’ family said they witnessed hopeful signs from his bed at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

“As I was sitting there his reflexes are coming back, he actually coughed and moved his hands, which is a very good sign (according to) all the nurses and the doctors,” said Jeff Rodgers.

Yet this is a tragic waiting game for family, as they look for answers, wait for witnesses to come forward, and pray for their son.

“He was funny, vibrant, and to think we won’t have that, that’ll be very difficult,” said Tiffani Bent, long-term girlfriend of Jeff Rodgers. “There’s that possibility.”

“Right now the only thing I’m focusing on is being strong for Jacob,” said Jeff Rodgers. “He’s going to need that if and when he does wake up.”

Family post daily updates on Rodgers' condition on his Facebook page, Care Page for Jake Rodgers.

This investigation is ongoing. If you have any information on this crash, call Grand Rapids Police at (616) 456-3938, or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.

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