Waccamaw High teen suffered brain injury in wreck

A Waccamaw High School teen is slowly recovering after being hit while walking in Georgetown County last weekend, his mother said Thursday from a Charleston hospital.

Jasonn Russell, 16, is in critical but stable condition at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said his mother, Olivia Russell. The teen, who plans to study medicine and moved to the area with his family from New York in June 2006, suffered a brain injury and has been closely monitored since the incident that occurred Saturday, she said.

"He is coming around slowly, but surely," Olivia Russell said. "He's showing signs of improvement. We're just really, really rooting for that fever to go away."

Thomas Gallagher, 18, of Pawleys Island, turned himself in Monday to state troopers investigating the collision to face a charge of leaving the scene of a collision with personal injury, police said. Jasonn Russell was walking with other people about 11 p.m. Saturday along Litchfield Road when he was hit by the vehicle.

He was taken to Georgetown Memorial Hospital and transferred by helicopter to MUSC.

Olivia Russell said she was shocked when she heard news of Gallagher's arrest. The older teen attended the same high school as her son, who is on the football team and plays tuba in the band.

"We really hoped it was a grown adult and not a kid," she said. "We feel for him just as much."

Details about what happened in the incident have not been released, but Olivia Russell said she hopes it sends a message that people need to be more careful while driving. .

"There are so many kids driving while texting or on their cell phones. If they would put that down there are so many accidents that could be prevented," Olivia Russell said.

"I don't know what happened to Jasonn; I wasn't there. If people would put these things down they would be so much safer out there."

The outpouring of support from the community, school friends and others to Russell's family has been "unbelievable," Olivia Russell said.

"When this happens to you, you first go into shock and disbelief. I expected my son to be sitting on the side of the road with a broken leg or something. You don't expect this," she said Thursday from MUSC where family members have kept a constant vigil.

"We're just overwhelmed with all the support from our community. It really makes me believe we have the best community ever."

A fund was set up at Conway National Bank to help the teen's family with expenses. Donations can be made to the "Benefit for Jasonn Russell" at any Conway National Bank branch, or they can be mailed to Conway National Bank, P.O. Box 2490, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576.

"I have no time to get back to everybody," Olivia Russell said. "I just want to say thank you so much for everybody's prayers and everybody's support. I am just speechless at the support we have been getting."