MANASSAS, Va. (ABC7) — A Manassas teenager who was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver in December finally got to meet the men and women who helped save his life.
Ethan McLaurin, 18, went for a late afternoon run on Dec. 7, 2018. He was headed home and while on Lake Jackson Drive near Dumfries Road, a vehicle hit McLaurin, sending him over the bridge and down the rocky ravine.
“There are so many people here!” McLaurin said as he walked in to the Lake Jackson Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday. “I don’t know who to wave at.”
He isn’t used to the spotlight and the standing ovation was much different from how he first met the first responders.
“I would have never guessed he would have been up and walking again. It’s very shocking,” Lt. Greg Jones said. “Where he was at was 30 feet off the bridge, in a rocky terrain, almost a 40-degree incline. So it was pretty treacherous.”
Jones was one of the first people on the scene with his volunteer firefighter team.
“The initial question is, ‘Is he breathing?’” he said.
McLaurin was found face-down, in the dark by his father who pinged his cell phone. Before Larry Sugden located his son, McLaurin did not think he would survive.
“I just started to accept, like, ‘I’m probably gonna die here. This is where I’m gonna die,” he said.
The 18-year-old suffered a fractured pelvis, broken leg, multiple compression fractures in his spine and torn muscles. He went through four surgeries and was in the hospital for nearly a month. He was able to go home on Christmas Eve.
“I’ll tell you, based on how hard he was hit, and what happened to him, it’s great to see him walking around,” said Carl Hood, a rescue chief at Lake Jackson Volunteer Fire Department.
McLaurin started walking on his own two weeks ago. On Tuesday, he was allowed to finally remove his neck brace and was told he did not need another surgery.
“Your story stuck with me. I’m not gonna lie,” dispatcher Stephanie Drumm told McLaurin.
Drumm answered Julia Sugden’s 911 call when her husband found her son.
“We never get to find out what happens to the calls that we take,” said Kesha Beckley, an assistant shift supervisor at Prince William County Public Safety.
Beckley said she was relieved when she heard he survived and was recuperating.
“You helped save our son. We thank you. We appreciate you,” Julia Sugden said.
Said Ethan McLaurin, “It’s really awesome to see the people who actually got me to where I am today."
McLaurin said he feels good and is glad the hard recovery is mostly over. The emotional aspect continues as the person who caused the injuries is still out there.
“It just upsets me that nobody’s come forward, and I hope somebody does,” he said.
Prince William County Police said they are investigating and do not have any new information on a suspect or vehicle description.
While the family is glad the teen is better, they face a financial challenge.
“We’re facing right around $200,000 in medical bills that have not been covered,” Julia Sugden said.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Prince William County Police Department.