WARREN - A local family is struggling after an accident on New Year's Day severely injured a Warren man.
Harold Rice, 46, was hit by a car while riding his bicycle at Tod Avenue and Summit Street. The vehicle kept going after Rice was flung from his bicycle.
Rice was found prone on the side of the road shortly before 3 a.m. by DelRecco Dukes and Jamal Martin, who were riding in separate vehicles on the way to a friend's house after leaving a New Year's Eve church service.
"We saw him on the ground; he was saying he needed help," Martin recalled. "His legs were fractured, and his head was bleeding."
Dukes said Rice was able to identify himself, and he immediately called 911.
"I just told him don't move, because his leg was shattered," Dukes said.
How to help
WHAT: Harold Rice benefit account
TO: Help defray medical costs from hit-and-run
WHERE: Any Huntington branch
HOW: Stop in or call to donate money
Another bystander, Matthew Allen, 36, of Cortland, said another vehicle almost hit him again, so he helped direct traffic and covered Rice with a blanket to help keep him warm while waiting for rescue crews to arrive.
"He kept rolling his eyes back. I had a flashlight, and I kept making him talk to me. His leg was really bad, and he had blood on his head and his lower back," Allen said. "God bless him. I hope he makes it. It was so bad."
The bicycle was found 150 feet away from where Rice was lying, according to reports. A license plate also was found near where Rice was struck, along with his shoes.
Warren police Lt. Martin Gargas said attempts were being made to contact the owner of the vehicle - a 2000 beige Lincoln of an unknown model - but as of Tuesday afternoon, neither the owner nor the vehicle had been located.
Rice's niece, Clarissa Hartle, 19, said he was responsive when he first arrived at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, but collapsed shortly thereafter from a ripped artery in his heart.
Doctors were able to repair the artery after a five-hour surgery, she said, but he now will have to see a cardiologist every three months for the rest of his life. He also will require rehabilitation after having plates put in his legs, and Hartle said she doesn't know if he'll ever walk again.
He continues to recover in the hospital.
Rice also doesn't have medical insurance to cover his treatment. Hartle said a benefit account has been set up at Huntington Bank and donations are being accepted to help defray medical costs.
"The doctor said it looks like he was dragged. He has road rash on his right side, his left side has gravel and scrapes," Hartle said. "He has an incision from his hip to his ankle. The doctor said he's lucky to be alive."
Hartle said she hopes the police catch the driver of the vehicle that hit her uncle so justice can be served.
"They just left him here to die. I feel that it was attempted murder," she said. "I'm just happy there are still good people in the world."
One of the people who found Rice was a friend of Hartle's, but Martin didn't know the man he stopped to help was her uncle. He said he saw a post on Facebook and made the connection after Hartle told him her Uncle Harry was in the hospital.
"It kind of shocked me," he recalled. "That whole night was just kind of strange with the whole shooting down at the Sunset and then finding him on the ground."
Duke also expressed sadness at discovering the close connection.
"I hope they find out who did it. Something needs to be done," he said.
Allen said he's glad the driver of the vehicle left the license plate behind and hopes they are soon caught.
"He doesn't deserve what he got, poor guy," he said.