T.J. Mendez suffered a broken leg, a lacerated liver and spleen, a punctured lung and several broken ribs in the accident, according to his mother, Lexine Smith.
“He’s lucky to be alive,” Smith said by cell phone from the hospital on Sunday.
According to Smith, her son was riding on the back of a snowmachine driven by his friend, 14-year-old Kenneth Newman Jr., when Newman attempted to cross the Mitchell Expressway near University Avenue at 7:14 p.m.
Smith said Newman came over a snow berm to cross the road and checked for lights of oncoming traffic. When he didn’t see any, he began to cross the intersection, she said.
A truck with no headlights on hit the back end of the snowmachine where Mendez was riding, his mother said. Mendez flew 15 to 20 feet off the snowmachine.
“He bounced off the road into a snow berm,” Smith said.
Newman also was thrown from the machine, but he wasn’t injured, she said. Fortunately, both boys were wearing helmets, Smith said.
Alaska State Troopers and medics responded to the accident. Smith received a call on her son’s cell phone from medics informing her that he had been in an accident and was being treated at the emergency room at the hospital.
When Smith arrived at the ER, she said her son “was totally blue from head to toe.”
Smith said neither Newman nor the driver of the truck were cited. The trooper told Smith both drivers were at fault because Newman didn’t come to a complete stop before crossing the road and the driver of the truck should have had his headlights on, she said.
Smith blamed the driver of the truck, Bryan Jordan, 30, of Fairbanks, who did not report any injuries. Smith said she intends to pursue legal action.
“If the guy would have had his headlights on, (Newman) would have stopped,” Smith said. “I don’t think it’s right that you can drive with your headlights off and almost kill someone and not have anything happen.”
According to troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen, Jordan said he had his headlights on.
Attempts to reach Newman were unsuccessful, but his father said his son told him the truck did not have its lights on when it hit the snowmachine. He said both boys are lucky to be alive.
“If it had been another foot closer it could have taken them both out,” Ken Newman, Sr. said.
The snowmachine, an Arctic Cat Firecat, is totaled, Newman Sr. said.
Mendez had surgery Sunday morning to have a rod inserted in his leg, his mother said.