john lewis timberland bystanders credited with saving lives of crash victims
YORKVILLE A Racine County Sheriff’s deputy, along with two bystanders, are being credited with saving the lives of a Union Grove couple on Sunday morning after they were hit by a suspect vehicle fleeing law enforcement.
Cheryl L. Coopman, 47, and Jeffery J. by a vehicle in the Festival Foods parking lot, 5740 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant.
During a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Racine County Patrol Station, 14116 Washington Ave., in Yorkville, Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said the Coopmans were in critical but stable condition.
The vehicle, driven by 17 year old Isaiah Degroot of Racine, was fleeing a traffic stop by the sheriff’s deputy at the time of the crash, Schmaling said.
The deputy attempted to stop the Toyota Sequoia the suspect was driving after she noticed suspicious behavior, then discovered the license plate wasn’t registered to the vehicle. Law enforcement later learned that the vehicle had been stolen from Milwaukee County. The deputy followed the Toyota into the Kohl’s parking lot, 5500 Washington Ave.
“As soon as she turned her lights on, the vehicle accelerated at a high rate of speed,” Schmaling said.
Degroot traveled only about 500 yards before crashing.
“Within seconds, my deputy reports, the vehicle lost control at a high rate of speed, striking two innocent citizens before coming to a rest up against a pole,” Schmaling said.
The suspect then fled west on foot. He was soon apprehended by Mount Pleasant Police Department officers and sheriff’s deputies about a half mile away in the 600 block of Emmertsen Road.
While the suspect was fleeing, the deputy and bystanders were working to save the lives of the pedestrians.
“They had some serious, serious injuries,” Schmaling said. “These injuries, I believe, would have been catastrophic had there not been immediate medical attention applied.”
The deputy rendered first aid to the victims, applying a tourniquet to two parts of one of the victims’ bodies.
“There was blood loss, a significant amount,
” Schmaling said.
A Festival Foods employee supplied his belt to help stop the bleeding and another bystander gave a bungee cord.
“The tourniquet is what I believe is responsible for the saving of one of the individuals’ lives,’ Schmaling said.
One of the Coopmans was flown by Flight for Life from the scene to Froedtert. The other victim was taken by ground ambulance to Ascension All Saints Hospital and later transferred to Froedtert.
Schmaling said he couldn’t comment on the victims’ specific injuries, but at one point he called them “life altering.”
“Our entire community, on behalf of the Racine Sheriff’s Office, all of us are thankful and prayerful that they have a speedy recovery,” he said.
At the time of the crash Degroot, of the 2000 block of Hickory Grove Avenue, was out on bond for felony charges of discharging a firearm from a vehicle (driver) and two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety as a party to a crime. These charges were in connection to a shooting that took place on Oct. 30 in the 1600 block of Albert Street in Racine.
According to a Nov. 2 Journal Times report, Degroot reportedly followed another vehicle after cutting it off, became confrontational with the driver, then shot at the vehicle as the victim drove away. No one was injured in the incident.
According to online court records, Degroot posted a $2,500 bond for those charges on Nov. 13.
Mount Pleasant Police have referred the following charges in connection to Sunday’s hit and and run incident to the Racine County District Attorney’s Office for consideration: Fleeing and eluding, hit and run causing great bodily harm, hit and run causing injury, operating a motor vehicle without owner consent, receiving stolen property, first degree reckless endangering of safety, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, obstructing an officer and nine counts of bail jumping. Degroot is expected to make his initial appearance on Tuesday, Jan. 16, in Racine County Circuit Court.
There was also allegedly marijuana and a stolen gun in the vehicle at the time of the crash.
“I am hoping that our judge and our circuit court do the right thing and keep this individual in the Racine County Jail, behind bars where he belongs,” Schmaling said. in the Sequoia at the time of the incident, another male about the same age as the suspect, did not flee the scene. Schmaling said the second individual is cooperating with law enforcement.
Mount Pleasant Police, the Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin State Patrol all are involved in the ongoing investigation.
“At the end of the day, we have a suspect who failed to comply with law a enforcement officer’s traffic stop and made a decision to speed and cause the near demise of two of our innocent citizens,
” Schmaling said.