By NIKKI YOUNK
IRON MOUNTAIN - Iron Mountain native Derek Luke continues to recover after he was seriously injured in a hit and run accident downstate.
Luke Family Photo
Iron Mountain native Derek Luke sustained serious injuries in a hit and run accident earlier this year in Oxford, Mich. Here, he is pictured with his daughter Mara.
Derek, a 2002 Iron Mountain High School graduate, sustained multiple fractures to his face, back, pelvis, and leg. He is currently confined to a wheelchair, and has his jaw wired shut.
Despite these injuries, Derek is expected to make a full recovery. His father, Scot Luke of Iron Mountain, said that he should be walking on his own by August.
Scot added that support from family and friends has been vital in his son's healing process.
"Prayers are really getting us through it," he said.
The ordeal began in the early morning hours of Feb. 17. in Oxford, Mich., which is located about 40 miles northeast of Detroit and three miles away from Derek's residence in Lake Orion, Mich.
Scot explained that Derek, Derek's girlfriend Kristi Torretti, and some friends were out on the town for dinner and drinks.
While walking across a road, Derek turned around to talk to Kristi when a light-colored Buick Rendezvous came speeding down the road and hit Derek.
Scot said that the vehicle backed up and took off.
"Another driver followed the car to Lake Orion, but he couldn't get a license plate because of the speed," he said. "The car took a side road and he lost him."
Derek's mother Lynn Luke remembered receiving the call about the accident.
"The phone ringing on a Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m. cannot be good," she said. "At this point, we did not know if he was alive or dead. We had a very long hour to hope and pray and cry. Then, finally, the phone rang again and his friend said he had multiple injuries but was going to make it."
Scot said that doctors believed that Derek's excellent health was a factor in his survival.
"He was in great shape, the best shape of his life," he said.
Although the accident was hard on everyone, Lynn noted that it was especially difficult for Derek and Kristi's young daughter Mara.
"She asked him, 'But Daddy, didn't you look both ways?'," said Lynn. "He responded, 'Yes, I did Mara, and yes, next time I will look four times before I cross the street.'"
After the accident, Derek spent about a month in the hospital. He then had to move into a hotel, since his second-floor condo in Lake Orion was not wheelchair accessible.
Two weeks ago, Derek and his family moved into a nearby ground floor condo.
"Now that he's with his daughter and girlfriend, that's really lifted him up quite a bit," said Scot.
Since the hit and run driver remains at large, Scot has started a reward fund for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver.
Anyone who would like to contribute money to the reward fund can send a check made out to Lynn or Scot Luke with "Derek Luke Reward Fund" on the memo line to River Valley Bank, 101 West B St., Iron Mountain, MI, 49801.
There is also a Caring Bridge website set up for Derek, at www.caringbridge.org/visit/derekluke, where people can leave him messages of support.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is email@example.com.