UNIONTOWN, OH (WOIO) - A Northeast Ohio Navy veteran's family is struggling after he was hit and almost killed by a van, and will take up to a year to recover.
Chuck Salzwimmer's sisters tell Cleveland 19 that he was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, training for his job.
On April 29, he was walking back to his hotel with a group of coworkers when he lagged behind due to a leg cramp.
"He had a cramp in his leg and the vehicle was traveling eastbound and he reached down," said Salzwimmer's sister Lisa Burwell. "He looked up and he saw this van coming. Even his coworkers were like, 'Chuck! Look out! look out!'"
Salzwimmer was hit at about 45 miles per hour, his sisters told Cleveland 19, and he suffered a multitude of injuries including a shattered vertebrae, a fractured skull and a punctured lung.
"[The doctors at the University of Michigan] said 'when you read this on paper he should have died; there's no way he should have survived that,'" said Burwell. "He could have ended up paralyzed. He could have ended up in a wheelchair, and obviously the worst is he could have been dead, and I'm just not sure that the rest of us could have probably sustained that," said Burwell.
She said her brother, a staunch Ohio State University fan, has kept his spirits up, despite the trauma.
She said doctors were asking him questions to determine if he had any brain damage.
"They said 'what city and state are you in?' and he said 'I can't tell you that.' And the doctor was kind of looking around and the nurse was like, 'he's a Buckeye fan.'"
Burwell said that the driver who hit her brother was not ticketed, but her brother received a ticket for jaywalking.
Salzwimmer's wife rushed to the hospital to be by his side as soon as she heard about the accident, and she plans to stay with him throughout his recovery. Cleveland 19 was told the doctors are optimistic about his recovery and think he will be able to walk again. His recovery is expected to take between six and 12 months.
That's why a family friend set up a GoFundMe page for the couple. Salzwimmer isn't working while he's recovering, and his wife took time off from her job through the Family Medical Leave Act.
Burwell said that when her brother first found out about the page, he was hesitant.
"He didn't want it, and said we'll be fine, we'll be fine," said Burwell, but the family appreciates any help during his long road of healing.
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