JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Vito Johnson was riding his bike on the Eastside of Jacksonville on Feb. 4, when a hit-and-run left him with a fractured skull and spine. The crash left him into a medically induced coma, but Johnson is on the mend.
His family tells News4JAX that Johnson is off a ventilator and responding to them.
Johnson is at UF Health and plans to begin rehabilitation in Orlando for a few weeks. The 11-year-old showed signs of progress Tuesday by giving his family a thumbs up.
Ryan Pough is a close family friend. Vito calls her auntie.
“We’re taking one day at a time, but he is doing extremely well,” she said. “Especially the circumstances of what happened, the impact.”
Vito was hit the day before his 11th birthday near the intersection of Phelps and Troyan Streets. It left him in a medically-induced coma, undergoing brain surgery on his 11th birthday.
Now, he’s making progress. He’s talking.
“He was just telling me ‘hi’, and I was I was telling him Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said.
“It’s still hard for him to swallow,” she said.
Pough said he ate graham crackers Monday, and even tried to walk.
“He got up and tried to walk for the first time and he was doing really well,” she said. “He’s kind of off-balance a little bit because it’s still fresh. But he’s doing extremely well.”
With a traumatic brain injury, Johnson is facing weeks of rehabilitation and a long recovery. In the meantime, a GoFundMe has been set up to pay for his medical bills and living expenses as Johnson’s parents take time off work to care for him.
There will also be a fundraiser walk at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Police Athletic League. That’s at 1050 Franklin Street, Jacksonville, 32206.
Vito Johnson’s family is asking for anyone with information about the hit and run to come forward. A witness said it was a silver car, possibly a Honda Civic.