The family of the 19-year-old man critically injured in a deadly bus crash in St. Paul last month said on Friday that he’s “making small steps” toward recovery.
LaShonna Kyles, mother of Markus Jackson, said he opened his eyes for the first time earlier this week and can now respond to basic commands. Doctors placed Jackson in a medical coma and removed a large portion of his skull because of brain swelling after the crash on July 21.
She said she nearly passed out when she found out he was responsive. Jackson hasn’t been speaking much but was able to say “Hi, mom” and ask about pizza rolls, one of his favorite foods.
“I don’t know if I’m going to get my old son back,” Kyles said. “It’s a day-by-day process.” Jackson’s progress can be followed on his CaringBridge page.
Friday was supposed to mark the first court hearing for Tyler Bjelland, 26, of Minneapolis, who was charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation after he slammed into a Metro Transit bus in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, killing 48-year-old Kenneth Foster. But Bjelland also remains hospitalized and didn’t make it to his court date.
Police called the crash at Charles Avenue and Dale Street “horrific and surreal.” Bjelland allegedly sped through a stop sign, hit a curb and went airborne, crashing through the midsection of the northbound bus about 7:30 p.m.
The Kyles said the criminal proceedings have been put “on the back end” while they focus on Jackson. Rasu Kyles said church communities and everyone who has donated to Jackson’s GoFundMe page, which has raised almost $2,000, have helped.
She described Jackson as a good person, an athlete who loves playing football and an “All-American” kid who enjoys hanging out with his friends. Eric Palmer, the family’s attorney, said Jackson recently graduated from Central High School in St. Paul and is a student at St. Paul College. Palmer said Jackson is interested in psychology and wants to be a counselor.
Jackson is the third-oldest of nine kids. Kyles and her husband Rasu were in the process of fixing up their house before last month’s crash, a process that was “paused” as Jackson recovers, and with which they said help would be appreciated. They said they want to move into a one-story house so Jackson doesn’t have to maneuver stairs.
LaShonna Kyles said Foster’s family sent flowers to Jackson at the hospital.
“It was just awesome that they even reached out to us,” she said, adding that people should still be thinking about and praying for the Foster family, “because they do need it.”