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Hit-and-run victim still recovering, hoping for arrest

Good Samaritan who nearly lost foot able to wear shoe, walk without crutch

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 27-year-old good Samaritan who was nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver on the Southside in June reached a significant milestone recently: He put on a shoe.

"If you were in my shoes, then you'd understand," Albert Ives said. "It's a big step having a shoe on. It's a very big step."

Ives was helping two women change a flat tire on the side of the road on Southside Boulevard when he was hit by a driver who left the scene. The impact was so powerful, doctors were almost forced to amputate Ives' foot.

Six months and many hours of therapy later, Ives is finally able to wear a normal shoe on his right foot.

"I went straight home after physical therapy, and I put a shoe on and it fit, and I was like: 'Yes! I can put a shoe on!'" Ives said. "And ever since then, I've had a shoe on." 

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Three surgeries and twice-a-week physical therapy sessions at UF Health Jacksonville have been fruitful for Ives. He can finally walk again, crutch-free, after he was hit by a Jeep Grand Cherokee in June.

Ives said he's grateful for the progress on his healing, but the ultimate Christmas gift for him would be for the driver who hit him to do the right thing and come forward.

"It's so upsetting because to him, he thinks it's a game, when it was really my life," Ives said. "We all make mistakes, but then when you run away from the situation, it makes it worse. And now that that's happened and now that I am able to put a shoe on and I am able to walk, I'm ready to catch the guy who hit me and left me to die."

The Florida Highway Patrol report identified 37-year-old Wesley Hawkins as the registered owner of the Jeep. The report cited numerous difficulties reaching Hawkins, until an Aug. 8 interview, where he told investigators he had a house party the night of the hit-and-run.

He said he was home asleep and noticed the keys to his car missing the next morning. He told investigators a man named "Rocky" or one of the other five people at his home that night "took the car without his permission," the report said.

"The truth is spontaneous," said John Phillips, Ives' attorney. "When someone asks you a question and you blurt something out, you usually get the truth. And what we have here is the lack of spontaneity, the time to come up with a story that just doesn't quite make sense."

The report said Hawkins admitted the cell phone recovered from inside the SUV was hit but that it was out of service.

FHP investigators said "Rocky" has never been located and they have closed the case unless new evidence is presented. For Ives, it's a frustrating turn, but he is determined to keep putting his best foot forward.

"The more I'm positive about it and the more I smile, the better and faster my progression is," Ives said. "Just got to stay positive, otherwise you're going backwards."

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Ives was able to get a job, but was recently let go because his work schedule wasn't conducive with all of his doctor's appointments. He's actively looking for a new job now. He said he just needs a little flexibility from his boss.

Phillips said a civil suit is being considered, but with Ives' big medical bills, he's not ready to pursue it fully just yet.

"With all of the pressure in the world, can we turn that pressure into a diamond, which is an arrest," Phillips said. "I'm still hoping we can."

A fundraiser has been set up for Ives. If you'd like to help, go to
www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/h625/ives-alive-good-samaritan-in-hit-run