Hit-and-run victim fighting for her life after accident on Friday

NOW: Hit-and-run victim fighting for her life after accident on Friday

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. – Late at night on Friday, August 12, Elyse Zimmerman and her boyfriend Darek Bullock-Mills were riding a motorcycle with another couple, heading home from Sister Lakes, when a Ford panel van crossed the center lane and hit them.


According to Michigan State Police investigators, both of them were thrown off the motorcycle by the impact.


Darek died at the scene; he was just 27 years old. Elyse was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo in critical condition.


“We didn’t even know she was going to Bronson,” remembered Elyse’s brother, Ethan Zimmerman. “We just started calling every hospital in Kalamazoo.”


Elyse’s family all rushed to be at her side.


Her injuries were extensive: she was intubated by first responders at the scene, her lower left leg had to be amputated and her right left suffered from a compound fracture.


All the while, she has been unconscious, going in and out of surgery.


“She will probably be here in the trauma center through the weekend,” said her mother, Lori Zimmerman.


Her family believes the road to recovery will be difficult—not just physically, but mentally as well.


Lori said, “It’s going to be devastating for my daughter to find out the love of her life is no longer with her.”


Darek and Elyse had been together for six years and Darek had just signed on to play semi-pro football in Kalamazoo. In the wake of his death, the team announced that his number would be retired, before he even took the field.


Elyse’s mother believed he was the reason she ultimately survived the accident.


“Derek was my hero, because he chose for my daughter to have a helmet on,” Lori said. “Without that, I’m don’t know if she would be here, and that we’d be talking right now.”


Darek’s family and friends gathered at the site of the accident and constructed a memorial for him.


Elyse herself was also a strong athlete, and played multiple sports throughout her life, before settling on basketball—playing the sport for over ten years, even playing for the University of Indianapolis.


It’s because of her athleticism and inner strength that her family believes that she will get through the recovery process.


“I have no doubt that she’ll be able to get through that and be able to do those things that she likes to do in her free time,” said Ethan, who even created a GoFundMe page to raise money for her recovery and to help support Darek’s family to cover the funeral costs.


The original goal of $20,000 was surpassed Tuesday night.


“This helps more than words can even express,” Ethan said. “The dollar sign is one thing, but just the ease and the knowing that people are thinking of us and Darek’s family and are taking time out of their days to contribute what they can is what means the most.”


The GoFundMe now has a goal of $30,000. Anyone interested in contributing can find a link here: Fundraiser by Ethan Zimmerman : Hospital bills for Elyse (gofundme.com)


Angelo Mills, Darek’s father, sent ABC57 a statement, expressing his desire to see the suspect who hit the pair caught, reading:


“I would just like to say to the person that changed two [families] lives in a [matter] of seconds that I hope as you go on with your life you see them in everything you do, that it make[s] living you[r] life very [difficult] you have not only touched two [families] but [several] other[s] you [snuffed] out [our] dreams and I [hope] in my heart that you will pay for that.”


Michigan State Police are still searching for the suspect in the hit-and-run.

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