BJ Smith (BJ), age 16, was a passenger in a car being operated by Timothy Vincent, also age 16. As Vincent was traveling southbound on Kepler Road, he lost control, traveled off of the roadway and struck a tree. The force of the crash caused the car to wrap around the tree on the passenger side. BJ was catastrophically injured.
Vincent was charged with aggravated vehicular assault, reckless operation and failure to control. Photographs of the traffic crash are provided at Tab 7.
BJ was removed from the auto by rescue personnel using the Jaws of Life. BJ was unconscious, transported to Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron and admitted to the intensive care unit. He remained comatose for 10 days.
BJ sustained massive head injuries which required removal of a section of his skull to relieve swelling. Surgery to replace the section of his skull did not occur until 9 months after this horrific crash.
After his hospitalization, BJ was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania.
BJ was discharged from rehabilitation in June, 1999. His convalescence and therapy has continued at home. Although he has shown some cognitive gains such as positive responses to music and laughter, he is still unable to speak. BJ’s family continues to try to communicate with him but are unsure as to how much he understands and, in fact, BJ has not yet had a consistent means of communicating “yes” and “no”. He continues to vacillate between being aware and unaware of his surroundings but at times does smile and laugh. He has limited movement of his left arm and leg and is completely dependent upon others for care, hygiene, eating and all basic functions. BJ does have seizure activity and although a Baclofen “pump” was originally implanted to reduce spasticity, his body later rejected the pump requiring its removal. As a result, BJ has severe spasticity.
BJ’s condition has been evaluated by Jose C. Rafecas, M.D., a neurologist. The doctor stated that BJ suffers from severe spasticity, neurogenic bladder, quadroparesis dysarthria, cognitive dysfunction and seizures. As a result of his neurogenic bladder and incontinence, it has been difficult to locate a facility to accommodate BJ with regard to his therapy. BJ’s family has installed a heated therapy pool in the hope that this continuing therapy will result in further progress and improvement. An independent medical report by a doctor who was a former chair of the Department of Neurology at the Cleveland Clinic, agrees that BJ suffered massive brain damage and, regrettably, BJ’s condition will be permanent.