Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
James Daniel Hughes isn’t necessarily improving, but his family is taking it day-by-day.
Hughes was involved in the Sept. 5 accident on Woodruff Avenue. He was riding his bike when he was hit by a dump truck near a construction site.
The first-year student was taken to Wexner Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition. Now more than two weeks since his accident, the Ohio State Police Department is still investigating the case, an investigation that makes the Hughes’ family lawyer uneasy.
Steve Crandall, the Hughes’ lawyer, said Hughes has undergone several surgeries since the accident and is persevering, but wouldn’t say his condition is improving.
“I don’t know if you could use that word. Everyday that he makes it through obviously is a positive day,” Crandall said. “He’s still not out of the woods in terms of whether he’s going to live or whether he’s going to die, and I think they also don’t know what kind of function he’s going to have long term if he does survive.”
Crandall said the surgeries have not been minor, some exceeding four or five hours.
The case remains under investigation by University Police, but Crandall said he isn’t sure the university should be handling the case at all.
“Obviously as my investigation unfolds, there’s going to be an issue of who’s responsible for having this happen to a student,” he said. “There may be a situation where OSU has responsibility, and I think it’s unwise to have your own campus police department field an investigation over an issue that may, you know, have some liability issues on the campus or the university itself.”
Crandall said he was concerned about the possibility of bias in the investigation, and thinks it would be better if they had deferred to another agency.
“I do think that another police agency that is used to handling these things on a day-to-day basis would have been better,” he said.
OSU spokesman Jim Lynch reiterated in a Sunday email that the investigation was ongoing, and more information would be provided after the investigation is concluded.
University Police Chief Paul Denton said they are looking for more witnesses, a practice he called “fairly routine.”
“It’s standard for an investigation of this scope, we want to be absolutely certain,” Denton said. “You would expect there to be a large number of witnesses who we may have not gotten a chance to talk with.”
He said the ongoing investigation “takes longer obviously because of the seriousness of it.”
Denton encouraged anyone with information to contact the police department, even if they don’t think it is significant.
Crandall is also looking for witnesses to the accident, and said Hughes’ friends have been trying to connect with witnesses via social media. He isn’t sure when the investigation will be done.
“They are not done with their investigation yet, so I don’t have a lot of information to give to the family yet to tell them exactly what happened,” Crandall said.
Crandall said students and parents alike shouldn’t have to worry about an incident like this happening on a college campus.
“Whether you are walking, whether you are biking, you know, whether you were skipping, there shouldn’t be a way that anyone on campus can get into a position, should be allowed to get into a position, where a dump truck runs over you,” Crandall said.
Hughes’ accident happened among a string of on- and off-campus bike and pedestrian accidents, but Denton said other bicycle accidents on campus are not being investigated further and have all been closed or are in the process of closing.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee formed a safety task force earlier this month. It is expected to make safety recommendations to the university Oct. 1.
Hughes is the oldest of four siblings and is from South Point, Ohio. He is a first-year in chemical engineering. His accident is one of at least seven accidents in the campus area. At least three of which sent students to the hospital with serious injuries.
First-year student Rachel Stump was involved in an Aug. 19 car accident that caused her to go into a coma, is recovering. OSU student Yifan Gu was struck by a bicyclist Sept. 6 near Chumley’s on High Street. She left the scene in an ambulance that took her to the Medical Center, where she remained in the surgical intensive care unit Sunday evening.