CALGARY — The family of Emerson Wikeruk anxiously awaits updates on the condition of the 25-year-old who was the victim of a weekend hit-and-run.
Wikeruk suffered life-altering injuries when he was struck early Sunday morning in the eastbound lanes of Memorial Drive near the St. George’s Drive/12th Street N.E. overpass
The suspect vehicle — believed to be a 2016 Chrysler 300 — drove off after hitting Wikeruk but, according to police, the driver and vehicle have since been located. No details regarding charges have been released.
Wikeruk’s mother, Heather MacPhee, says her son remains on a respirator in a medically-induced coma and is in life-threatening condition in an intensive care unit at the Foothills Medical Centre.
“I hopped on a plane and flew out here five hours after getting the news (of the hit-and-run),” MacPhee, who lives in Quebec, told CTV News. “I dropped everything and came out here.”
Her son’s injuries include two broken vertebrae in his neck, a broken foot, and severe internal injuries to his upper legs and back.
MacPhee says she is the lone member of the family permitted to be with Wikeruk in hospital due to pandemic-related restrictions and the visits are capped at an hour a day.
The family says Wikeruk loves to skateboard and had his skateboard with him at the time of the hit-and-run, but details regarding the collision have not been confirmed. He is believed to have been alone when he was struck by the car.
“It was a tragedy. It was a horrible, tragic accident until the person decided to hit-and-run,” said MacPhee. “That decision turned it criminal.”
Camilo Kobek encountered Wikeruk’s body on Memorial Drive and says he couldn’t tell what was in the road.
“I was driving down Memorial Drive and I as I was going through heavy rain I saw something that appeared in front of me in the middle lane,” said Kobek. “At first I thought it might be an animal but as I got closer I saw it was a human body.
“It kind of shocked me.”
Kobek says he didn’t realize it was a person until he was driving past. He then stopped, reversed, and used his car to protect the man from oncoming traffic.
“(I) got out onto the rain and called 911 and was trying to hold him and hold him in place so he wouldn’t move much at that point as he was writhing in pain. He was turning from side to side with a lot of blood coming out of his back and his mouth and he appeared to have sustained major injuries.”
In the days following the hit-and-run, Kobek says his thoughts are constantly with the injured man and his family.
“I hope I can come into contact with the family soon and I hope they’re alright. Honestly, my heart goes out to them. That was one of the first thoughts that I thought when I was there with him. He’s such a young guy. I could tell he was anywhere between 25 and 28 — which is my age, and I just thought about my own mother and what his family must be going through.”
Wikeruk was born in Calgary but his family moved to the eastern townships of Quebec when he was young. After training as a volunteer firefighter and welder, he returned to Calgary approximately three years ago to be closer to the two eldest of his four sisters and has been working for a roofing company.
MacPhee says her son has a huge heart and goes out of his way to help others. “He is such a compassionate, kind-hearted (guy). He’s a helper. He always has been.”
She adds that her son recently purchased skateboards for family friends after their girls expressed an interest in skateboarding and he had begun teaching them to ride.
The Emerson rehabilitation fund GoFundMe campaign has been created to assist the family with travel costs and other expenses.