PHOENIX — A Valley family and their friends are coming together to overcome a tragedy nobody can prepare for -- having a family member struck by an alleged drunk driver.
On October 4, family members say 42-year-old James "Jimmy" Engel was on his way to work like any other morning. Around 3:30 a.m, Jimmy was struck by another vehicle at 19th Avenue and Deer Valley Road.
Phoenix police said a car ran the red light and collided with Jimmy's SUV.
Family members say the force of the impact ejected Jimmy out of the driver's side door about 40 feet from his vehicle.
"Jimmy had the green light, and as he was going through the intersection he was hit head on," said sister-in-law, Carrie Konesky. "He's almost stuck in his teenage years, like he's not remembering peoples names. This is changing his life completely and he's not the same. It's... it's devastating."
According to police records, Jimmy was taken to the hospital in critical condition with a skull fracture, brain bleed, and broken ribs.
A witness to the crash approached the suspect's car and found 26-year-old Evan Patrick Larson in the passenger seat, but no one in the driver's seat or anywhere else inside or outside the vehicle.
Police say the driver's side airbag deployed, but not the passenger side airbag.
Court records stated that surveillance video from a nearby McDonald's drive-thru taken just before the crash showed Larson driving the car. It also allegedly showed him "discarding a six-pack of bottles onto the ground."
A blood-alcohol test on Larson's blood was pending as of ABC15's original publication of this incident on October 10. When ABC15 asked Phoenix police for an update on October 26, Public Information Officer Tommy Thompson said no updates were available and that he had no information on the incident.
Since the crash, Konesky, has posted daily updates of Jimmy's status in a GoFundMe page created to help the Engels.
"It has been 22 days and he is awake now but does not understand what is going on. He has to be told everyday what happened to him and why he is in the hospital," said Konesky.
Jimmy is comforted daily by his wife, Tracey, and 18-year-old son, Lance.
"We don't know if he'll even be able to reset everything in his brain," said Tracey Engel. "I just wish who drinks would make the decision not to get behind the wheel and drive. It's not worth it. To anyone."
"It's just a shame that his whole life has been pretty much taken away from him. All because of someone making that decision," said Konesky.
If you would like to donate or follow Jimmy's journey, click here.