OCEAN CITY — The 9-year-old Pennsylvania boy struck by a vehicle while attempting to cross Coastal Highway at Route 54 in Fenwick last Saturday night still faces a long road but is expected to make a 100-percent recovery.
Just before 9 p.m. last Saturday, Zander Hartman, 9, of Lehighton, Pa., was crossing Coastal Highway at its intersection with Route 54, or Lighthouse Rd., with family and friends when he was struck by a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban. The group was attempting to cross Coastal Highway from west to east and stopped at the median when the pedestrian crossing signal went red.
According to the Delaware State Police, after Hartman and his family and friends successfully crossed the southbound lanes of traffic on Coastal Highway, or Route 1, as it is known north of the Delaware line, the crossing signal changed, forcing them to halt in the median near the raised curb.
For reasons unknown, other than simply being a young boy, Hartman did not stop at the median with his family and friends and darted out into the northbound lanes of Coastal Highway just north of the intersection with Route 54. Hartman was struck by the Chevy Suburban, driven by William D. Murphy, 52, of Havre de Grace, Md.
Hartman was struck by the front bumper of the Chevy Suburban, which had the right-of-way and was passing through the intersection on a green or yellow signal, according to conflicting reports. A DSP release stated the traffic signal was green, while a witness at the scene stated he believed the light was yellow.
Nonetheless, the driver was not found at fault and the collision was an unfortunate accident. According to the DSP report, alcohol was not a factor and no charges have been filed. After the collision, the Chevy Suburban pulled to a controlled stop in the bus lane of northbound Coastal Highway about 10 feet from the point of impact, according to a witness.
Hartman was flown by Maryland State Police helicopter to PRMC in Salisbury and was later transported by ambulance to D.C. Children’s Hospital in Washington where he was listed in critical condition. Despite the horrific collision, which closed northbound Coastal Highway at Route 54 for about two-and-a-half hours, Hartman was on the mend this week and is expected to fully recover, according to family friend Cory Hartsell, who has started a Go Fund Me page in order to raise funds for the mounting medical bills.
“He’s got a long road ahead, but the doctors expect him to make a 100-percent recovery,” Hartsell said on Wednesday. “He doesn’t have any neck or spinal injuries or any brain injuries, which is great news. Most of his injuries are internal and the doctors have them under control.”
Known to his family and friends simply as “Z,” Hartman is a typical 9-year-old and was enjoying a summer vacation in the resort area. According to his mom’s Facebook page, he was recently named to his Little League’s All-Star team. While she could not be reached directly for comment, his mom on Tuesday sent a rather positive message via Facebook.
“He’s got a lot going on, but he is very strong and is doing the best he can to get better,” the message read. “Just keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”
By mid-week, the Go Fund Me page started by Hartsell had gained a lot of momentum from well-wishers hoping for the best for the young boy. By late Wednesday afternoon, the page had collected nearly $7,000 of the stated $10,000 goal in just the first 24 hours. The page can be found at www.gofundme.com/xmxd2g.
Eric Tubens of Gilbertsville, Pa. was a witness to the collision and offered a few more details this week. Tubens was on the opposite corner waiting for the pedestrian signal to turn with his wife and was holding his newborn less than two months old. Tubens said half of his family had already crossed the west side of Coastal Highway and he was waiting for the next signal with his wife and infant along with about 15 other people.
Tubens said he saw the Hartman family cross to the center median and stop when the pedestrian signal changed, but Zander kept going and darted into the path of the Suburban. “It was kind of like slow motion and you could see it developing but were powerless to stop it,” he said. “It was horrible. Because of his size, the boy didn’t bounce off the bumper, but instead kind of rolled under the truck. It was devastating to watch and if he makes it through okay after that collision, it will be a blessing.”
Because of his proximity to the collision, Tubens said he had a chance to speak with the driver and his wife, who were clearly shaken. He said they were very upset and he attempted to console them.
“I reassured them they did not do anything wrong and it was just an unfortunate and tragic accident,” he said.
Tubens said he has since had the time to consider alternatives after he was on the opposite corner with his wife and infant child along with a dozen or so other people including young children.
“It could have been even more tragic,” he said. “If the driver had seen the child and swerved to avoid him, he could have easily driven into the crowd of people we were in on the corner.”