Ramona resident Don Scott remains vigilant about the welfare of his wife of 32 years, Michelle, who is recovering from a severe brain injury as a result of being struck by a vehicle while riding her bike Oct. 2.
Michelle Scott, 53, was pedaling to her job at Power Plus, a nationwide industrial power generator business with an office in Escondido, when she was thrown onto the roadway on state Route 67 north of Dye Road. She was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido where she received intensive care for about two months before being transferred to Villa Pomerado Nursing Care Facility in Poway.
The vehicle involved in the collision was identified by California Highway Patrol as a black Ford Edge SUV with stolen license plates. CHP Officer Travis Garrow said witnesses provided a tip about the vehicle.
A suspect arrested about a week after the incident in connection with the case remains in custody. Chase E. Richard, 34, faces two felony charges of hit and run causing death or injury, one felony charge of receiving stolen property, and two misdemeanor charges of reckless driving on a highway and destroying/concealing evidence.
Richard is scheduled for a jury trial in San Diego Superior Court in East County on Jan. 27. He is being held at the George Bailey Detention Facility in San Diego on $2 million bail.
Don Scott said Michelle was transferred out of Palomar Medical Center once her condition became stable, but her current condition remains the same as when she left the hospital. He said she has minimal brain function and is breathing out of a tracheotomy tube at Villa Pomerado, a skilled nursing facility next to Palomar Medical Center Poway.
Friends and relatives, including the Scotts’ 23-year-old son, also Donald, visit Michelle regularly, but Don said she remains largely unresponsive to verbal instructions such as “blink” and is not able to speak.
“With this kind of injury, the clock is super huge and the hands are turning slowly,” said Don, who has lived in Ramona since 1989. “We’re giving her time. This could be a long process.”
Don said one neurosurgeon told him the brain responds at different time frames than other parts of the body, but they will watch and periodically reassess her condition.
“He said, ‘you’re in it for the long haul,’” Don said.
Facing mounting medical bills, Don said the expense was temporarily covered in part by Michelle’s employer insurance, although that has lapsed since she is unable to work. Now Don is navigating a maze of medical records, insurance programs and test results.
Russell Shankle, a friend of the Scott family, started a GoFundMe account to help pay medical costs that has raised $11,187 of a $15,000 goal as of Jan. 3. The page at gofundme.com/f/2nyh6x-help-the-scott-family describes Michelle and Don as unselfish volunteers who have helped their community through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The couple have been known to evacuate the elderly in rainstorms, shovel mud out of strangers’ homes and provide other emergency aid. They have also performed traffic control at events, assisted with emergency shelter operations, been involved in church activities with Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Ramona, and Michelle has been a Boy Scouts of America leader.
Don, who has served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, said his attention is focused on the welfare of his wife, the care she receives and family issues, and is less attentive to legal matters associated with the hit-and-run case.
“I’m focused on being the best husband and best patient advocate,” he said. “We can’t change what happened. Justice will come as it will come. The legal issues won’t change my wife’s condition.”
Don said, on behalf of his family, he wants to thank everyone for their concerns and donations.
“We wish to thank everyone for their moral and financial support and patience as we work through this tragedy,” he said.