Student finally returns home after tragic accident
After 20 days in the Memorial Hermann Trauma Center, UH transfer student Lawrence “Jojo” Darlin will finally return home Wednesday.
Jojo was on his way home from school when he was seriously injured in a car accident on Highway 90A, near Harlem Road on Sept. 10.
According to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, a man driving a Chevrolet Camaro was racing another driver in a Dodge Challenger and accidentally struck two vehicles when he drove into a right shoulder to bypass the Challenger. In the process, he clipped a driver in a Toyota Tundra, which sent the truck over a median and straight into Jojo’s car.
“It just T-boned him, with such force. It was horrific,” said eyewitness Allison Mills to ABC 13 news. Mills was driving immediately behind Darlin and was one of the first to come to his aid.
Jojo was taken by life flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital and placed in a medically induced coma for two days.
He has gone through over a dozen surgeries and still has more to go.
A ruptured spleen and several broken bones throughout his body put Jojo in a critical state. Jojo’s recovery will take at least 9 months, and his family has not left his side since the incident.
“Every night my dad is with him,” said Darlin sister, Danielle Darlin Pineda. “We are all just thankful that he’s alive. He’ll still be able to walk, he has no brain injuries, no spinal injuries, no heart injuries — everything is in good working order, and we are just thankful he is alive.”
Pineda said she will never forget seeing her brother for the first time after the accident.
“I wasn’t ready for what I saw,” Pineda said. “I started crying. Just seeing somebody like that that you love. You don’t want to (see them like that).”
Pineda said her brother was only recently able to comprehend what had happened to him. He has no memory of the accident.
“He’s positive,” Pineda said. “He just wants to come home, (and) he’s happy to be alive.”
The man driving the Camaro has been identified by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office as Jeremy Joseph Green, 33, of Houston. Green is out on a $50,000 bond after being charged with two counts of aggravated assault with bodily injury and two felony charges.
When asked what she would say to Green if she could, Pineda’s response might surprise some.
“I’d tell him that I forgive him; I forgive him for everything he’s done,” Pineda said. “There is no time for hate. If anything,it brought our family closer together. But I do forgive him, and I hold no grudges.”
Darlin’s latest surgery was Monday and was centered on fixing his broken shoulder blade, a torn rotator cuff and torn muscles in his left shoulder.
Doctors suspect he may have nerve damage because he can’t move his ring or pinky fingers. Jojo’s parents said they expect his medical bills to reach $100,000.
Pineda made a GoFundMe page to help pay for the expenses and to keep people updated on her brother’s status.
“We are all shocked that so many people have reached out to us and that people we don’t even know have donated to us,” Pineda said. “We are really blessed to have people care about Jojo and care about what happens to our family.”
When describing her brother, Pineda said Jojo is goofy, funny and has a lot of energy. Even after being in the hospital for so long and enduring so much pain and so many surgeries, Pineda said Jojo is smiling and laughing with his family.
“He’s a good guy, and he did not cause this — it wasn’t his fault,” Pineda said. “That’s what I really want people to know. It could have been prevented if the guy wouldn’t have done what he had done. But you can’t change the past, and you have to keep on moving forward.”
Pineda said she hopes her brother’s story will remind other drivers on the road to be patient and cautious while driving.
“Accidents happen all the time, but whenever it happens to someone close to you it changes everything,” Pineda said. “Be patient because if anything happens, you could kill somebody. You could kill somebody’s son or daughter or mother. Just be patient.”
To find out more about Darlin and his status or to contribute to his family’s GoFundMe page.