PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A young driver who was the victim of a hit-and-run in Portsmouth feared he’d lose his vision after the terrifying incident.
News 3 spoke to 17-year-old Jaron Ratliff and his father, Ronnie Ratliff, who is grateful he is alive.
“I couldn't see my eye. It was really bad. There was blood leaking. I couldn’t see at all,” said Jaron Ratliff.
The hit-and-run crash happened just before midnight on September 17 in the 1700 block of Frederick Boulevard near Turnpike Road in Portsmouth.
The 17-year-old has only been driving for about six months and said he had a green light, so he put his foot on the gas. He drives a 2013 Ford Fiesta, which is the car his grandmother gave him for his birthday.
Then, the crash happened.
“It felt like something heavy duty ran into me. It happened so fast. It was something I didn’t expect. It was a very hard crash,” said Jaron.
“That was one of my biggest fears - something happening to him and I not being there to protect him,” said his father, Ronnie Ratliff.
But there was a man who stopped to help Jaron.
Glenn Perry was walking down the street when he said he saw the intense crash. He said he helped Jaron out of the car, which was leaking a lot of gas, and stayed by his side until he got into the ambulance.
Police said it was reported to them that the other driver took off.
Jaron said his face smashed against the steering wheel. He said he hit his eye against the wheel and couldn’t see. The teen said there was blood everywhere and said he was worried he would not be able to see again.
He was immediately worried about playing football.
“He called me, and I could hear the fear in his voice. That’s all he said - ‘Dad, I just got hit. A guy just ran a red light and hit me, and I can’t see out of my eye. I’m probably never going to be able to play football again,’” said Ronnie.
Jaron, a senior at I.C. Norcom High School who plays defensive back and receiver, has dreams to play in college.
“We had a game coming up, so that was the first thing I was thinking about,” said Jaron Ratliff, “if this was going to affect me long term.”
Jaron and his dad are extremely grateful to Perry. He said his quick actions potentially protected Jaron from further injury.
“The car was completely totaled - half the engine inside the car. It’s a miracle that he is walking, a miracle that he able to just leave with an eye injury from that, and I thank God that he wore a seatbelt,” said Ronnie.
After 24 hours, Jaron said his vision returned. He is currently seeing an eye specialist, and his dad says he should be back on the field playing football soon.
Portsmouth Police say they’re still investigating this hit-and-run.