Law Enforcement Seeking ID of Hit and Run Driver
Ben Bruening Takes a Double Hit
The Thompson Township teen who broke his neck in October during a football game, was driving with his mother Friday when a black SUV T-boned their car and then took off.
Martha Bruening, Ben’s mom, and he were traveling southbound in a blue Honda Odyssey minivan on Madison Road (state Route 528) around noon when they passed through the intersection of state Route 166, said Ken Bruening, Ben’s dad, in an email to the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office.
A black SUV traveling westbound from Route 166 neglected to stop at the stop sign and ran into the side of the minivan, causing the van to careen into the southwest ditch of the intersection, Ken said, adding the vehicle traveled approximately 35 feet before coming to a stop.
“The driver of the black SUV left the scene, never checking on the crash occupants,” he said. “A passerby stopped to offer assistance and stated that he saw only our van in the ditch and thought it might have been abandoned until he drove by and noticed Martha and Ben in the vehicle.”
The passerby later stated he did not see the black SUV or any other vehicle in the vicinity, Ken wrote.
During the accident, Ben, 17, struck his head against the side window of the van and was complaining of neck pain, he said.
On Oct. 25, the Madison Schools senior fullback fractured his C1 vertebrae in a helmet to helmet collision with a Lakeside defensive player. That fracture also dislocated Ben’s C2 vertebrae and tore a ligament in is neck.
He currently wears a Halo Traction device to hold his neck still so his vertebrae can heal, Ken said in a phone interview Tuesday.
After Friday’s accident, Ben was taken to Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center for evaluation to ensure the neck vertebrae were still in proper alignment, Ken said.
Ben had a standing X-ray at MetroHealth and there was no additional damage, so the high school senior has been home and attending his team’s games, he said.
He is expecting to be in the halo for three months, but continues competing to be valedictorian for his graduating class, he added.
“He’s in great spirits,” Ken said.
Ben weighs 200 pounds and is one inch short of six feet, according to the Madison Blue Streak football roster. He played running back and linebacker on the team. He cheers on his bother, Nick, a sophomore, who plays wide receiver and cornerback.
Ken hopes someone might know something about the accident or know someone who has a black SUV with recent damage to its front end.
He remains concerned about the intersection, which he said is oddly angled with deep ditches along both roads. A flashing yellow light warns north-south traffic and stop signs are on Route 166.
“It’s terrible there. So many people have died there,” Ken said, adding his Honda is probably going to be totaled.
“It took a good beating,” he said.
Fortunately, Martha was uninjured in the accident and Thanksgiving is on track for the Bruening family, Ken said.
“We’re very thankful,” he said.
Geauga County Sheriff’s Lt. John Hiscox said the Ohio State Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the accident. Anyone with information can call 440-286-1234.
Ann Wishart contributed to this article
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