This year has been tough for Tammy Adams and her family.
Her son, Audie "AJ" Shiffer, 30, was struck at 5:16 a.m. Monday by a 2017 Dodge Ram truck while crossing the West Branch Highway (Route 15) just south of Moore Avenue near the Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. The accident left him at Geisinger with multiple fractured bones, including neck and back, and internal injuries.
On March 27, Adams and her family of four lost everything when a fire destroyed their home at 153 Route 304, Winfield, Union Township. She and Shiffer just a few weeks ago moved into a new home in Lewisburg.
"We were trying to get our life back together," she said on Wednesday. "We thought everything was going back to normal. It's been a rough year."
Shiffer, described by his mother as an artist and a "tough kid with a soft heart," was driving his 1996 Ford Mustang that morning to his sister's house in Lewisburg when the car broke down, Adams said.
Buffalo Valley Police Chief Paul Yost said Ricardo Acosta, 30, of Manheim, was traveling northbound on Route 15 in the truck. As he crested the hill, Acosta struck Shiffer as he was walking from west to east. The speed limit is 45 mph traveling into Lewisburg and drops down to 40 mph just after the hill in the area where Shiffer was struck.
Shiffer was transported via ambulance to Evangelical Community Hospital where he was then transported via Life Flight to Geisinger in Danville. He is listed in critical condition on Wednesday morning at the hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson.
Adams said Shiffer has been sedated since Monday, but only on Wednesday has he been able to open his eyes and say a few words. The doctors removed the breathing tubes on Tuesday night, she said.
Shiffer has a broken neck, back, both legs, both feet, right hip, sternum and thorax. A gash in his head required 20 staples, his liver is lacerated and he has multiple bruises and road rashes. He had emergency surgery on his neck to place metal plates and surgeons removed a bulging disc from his spine.
"They aren't doing everything at once. That would be too much trauma on his body," she said. "It's going to be a long, long road. The doctors say to just take it one day at a time. He'll definitely need rehab to learn to walk again."
Adams and Shiffer's sister, brother, two step-brothers and grandparents, are all at the hospital with Shiffer. Adams said she is asking for prayer.
"We have a big prayer chain going," she said. "We have over 1,000 people already praying. We need prayers. I can't do this on my own."
Yost would not comment on speed nor whether charges were pending, noting that it was an open investigation.
William Cameron Engine Company and paramedics from Evangelical were among the first responders on the scene.
The road was closed and two separate detours were in place until approximately 10 a.m. Monday.