Student Struck by Car, in Medically Induced Coma

The Loyola Phoenix / March 19, 2013

Two Loyola students are recovering this week after being hit by a vehicle over the weekend in Lincoln Park.

The students were identified by friends, family and school officials as 18-year-old freshman Conor Crippen and 19-year-old freshman Anna Waz.

Both students were crossing the street near the Fullerton Avenue Red Line station around 11 p.m. Saturday, March 16, when a Nissan Pathfinder plowed into them, according to friends and the Chicago Police Department.

Waz, a nursing major, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on the North Side but was released on Monday, March 18, according to Fr. Thomas Reagan, S.J., who officiated a special mass at Loyola Sunday, March 17, dedicated to the recovery of the students.

As of press time, Crippen, a biochemistry major, is currently still in the intensive care unit at the same hospital in a medically induced coma to reduce the swelling in his brain, according to his 21-year-old sister, Bridget Crippen. Crippen is in stable condition, she said.

“He landed right directly on his face and rolled onto his head,” Bridget said. “It was kind of good that he rolled because then one part of his brain didn’t get all of the hit. It spread out, so we think it’s kind of like shallow damage rather than serious damage so far.”

“No major things have happened, so that’s really good,” Bridget said. “Boring is good, even though it’s kind of frustrating because I just wish he was healing now, but his body is taking its time and doing what it can.”

She said the two injured teens were walking across the street “in the back of a group” when the accident happened. Crippen has not yet woken from his coma, and Waz “doesn’t remember much, or really anything,” Bridget said.

Chicago police are still investigating, but the Nissan driver refused to take a Breathalyzer test designed to gauge alcohol intake, said police spokesman John Mirabelli.

Family members of both Crippen and Waz were notified by Loyola administration of the accident upon the students’ arrival at the hospital, Bridget Crippen said, adding that the university has been incredibly supportive.

“Rev. Patrick [Dorsey] came so early that morning,” Bridget said of Loyola’s hurried response. “Knowing that it’s a Jesuit school, it’s amazing to see [those values] enforced. I’m very happy that Conor picked this school so that he can continue to receive this love and support from Loyola.”

Crippen and Waz’s friends who witnessed the accident also said they are immensely thankful for all that the university has done for them.

Witness and friend of Crippen and Waz, Marielle Jennings, 18, freshman, explained that after following the ambulances in a taxi, she and her best friend Hannah Coley, 18, freshman, were greeted by Loyola administrators.

The university arranged a get-together for the sixth and 12th floors of Mertz, where the victims and their friends live, according to Jennings, a biology major, who said that the two floors act as a family and are extraordinarily close.

“I think it’s because Loyola has given us back so much, that I want to stay here and give back,” Jennings said. “It’s an awful experience, but [through it] we’ve been reassured that we’re in the right place.”

“I think it’s that sense of community that really helped to set the tone of how this recovering is going to go,” said Coley, the philosophy: social justice major.

Crippen’s family created a Facebook page titled, “Prayer request for Conor,” dedicated to keeping friends and the community updated on his condition, and reaching out for support for both Crippen and Waz.

In a post on the Facebook page, which has reached nearly 1,000 “likes” in the first 24 hours of its creation, Crippen’s family asks that the community “continue praying, and allow Conor to feel and receive all of the love that he has given us for his almost 19 years.”

Jennings describes Crippen as a very selfless, straight-A student.

Although it is currently unknown exactly which parts of Crippen’s brain were damaged, once the swelling goes down and he wakes up, Crippen is expected to face a six-month-long full recovery, according to Bridget.

“Conor is such an amazing, unique and great person, so you know, he still needs us here. With continued love and prayer and good luck, he’ll be back and continue to do good things,” Bridget said.

Coley and Jennings explained the most important thing for the Loyola community to keep in mind is that these are two exceptional students who deserve constant recognition and prayer.

“You think that something like this could never happen to the two people that you care about more than anything in the whole world, but it does, and now we just have to be with them the whole step of the way,” Coley said. “All of the support that Conor and Anna are receiving is a true testament to the kind of people that they are and the marks that they’ve already made here at this school.”