By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
A Del Norte High School freshman died Saturday morning after a hit-and-run accident.
Joshua A. Lacy, 15, was waiting for the school bus on U.S. Highway 101 near Arrowhead Road when he was struck by a vehicle around 7:05 a.m. Friday.
As the vehicle sped off, Josh was left alone in the middle of the highway unconscious and bleeding. He suffered broken bones in his right leg, along with head trauma and other internal injuries.
But according to Josh's mother, Carlene Lacy, her son would still be alive today had the driver of the vehicle simply stopped to help him.
"Joshua didn't die because he was hit by a car," she said. "He died because he was left alone in the cold."
Josh was struggling to breath and this oxygen deprivation caused massive swelling in his brain, ultimately leading to his death, she said.
"If he had treatment sooner, we would be dealing with a boy with two broken bones and the possibility of him not being able to play sports again."
Instead, Josh was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City, then flown to a pediatric intensive care unit at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, where he passed away early Saturday morning.
Even though Josh is gone, his mother says he still lives on. "He's bigger in his afterlife than he was in his life," she said.
The reason? Josh was an organ donor.
When he was 14-years-old, Josh saw his step-father and football coach, Jeremy Lacy, receive pink stickers in the mail. After learning about them, he became enamored with the idea of being an organ donor.
"He had the perfect heart," his mother said, referring to Josh's physical condition from being a student athlete at Del Norte High School.
Now Josh's heart will beat inside the chest of a 14-year-old California boy and his liver will save the life of a 30-year-old man. His kidneys, once matched, will provide hope to at least one more life.
But closure comes hard for Josh's family.
California Highway Patrol still has not found the person driving the hit-and-run vehicle.
"We have some evidence that we found on the scene," CHP Officer Pete Gonzalez, who is the investigating officer, said. "But we're not disclosing that information yet."
The chances of finding the culprit are fairly good, Gonzalez said, especially when there is community involvement.
"The percentage [of finding the person] is pretty high when the public steps in," he said.
The latest description of the vehicle states it could be a van, car or truck ranging in color from red to maroon to purple. It will have damage on the front and possibly on the driver's side. The driver's side headlight also will be broken.
Josh's family is offering a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the driver.
Robin Lacy-Wilson, Josh's grandmother, said she believes the person who hit Josh lives in the area.
"Driving on the highway at seven in the morning, they must live or work in this area," she said.
Lacy-Wilson hopes that the reward, which anyone can contribute money to, will help encourage people to speak up and bring closure to the family.
"I don't know if it's gonna help," she said, "and it's not gonna bring him back. But if it could just bring this person forward so they could face the music ..."
Added Josh's mother, "I want justice for him. But mainly I need to know what happened the community needs to know what happened."
Josh's Memorial Service
When: 5 p.m. Friday
Where: Del Norte High School
A reward fund has been started for anyone wishing to contribute to catching the person who hit Josh. To add money to the fund, contact Robin Lacy-Wilson at 707-464-1317.
Did you see it?
The California Highway Patrol encourages anyone with information regarding the accident or the description of the hit-and-run vehicle to call the CHP office at 707-464-3117.