Looking back on it, Shaequan Seabrook must have been lost in the dark morning hours of July 7 when she drove up on 18-year-old Rilyn Ellis sprawled out in the middle of Frederica Road on St. Simons Island, she said.
A driver for the ride company Lyft, Seabrook was heading from the mainland to pick up customers at Ziggy Mahoney’s in the Retreat Plaza off Demere Road near the roundabout. Instead, she found herself well north of there on Frederica Road near the St. Clair community when she encountered Ellis at about 2 a.m., shortly after he had been struck by a vehicle that police said left the scene afterward.
Seabrook forgot about her fare, called 911 and went to the aid of Ellis. The 26-year-old Seabrook said she recently moved here from Savannah and was depending on GPS technology for navigating the island roadways.
“I probably did take a wrong turn somewhere,” Seabrook said. “Everything happens for a reason. It wasn’t his time, I guess.”
Ellis, 19, of St. Simons Island, is recovering at UF Health Hospital in Jacksonville, where he faces a long road to recovery for a fractured neck, broken leg and other injuries. Meanwhile, another 19-year-old St. Simons Island man remained Monday in the Glynn County Detention Center on charges that he struck Ellis as he walked across Frederica Road, then drove away afterward.
Michael Francisco Harris is charged with hit and run resulting in serious injury, leaving the scene of an accident and serious injury by vehicle. Glynn County Police arrested Harris on July 8, after making a public announcement that investigators were searching for a Ford Crown Victoria with significant driver’s side damage to its side mirror, windshield, bumper and fender.
Ellis has no health insurance and a family member has started a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/f/justice-for-rilyn) page to raise money to offset the costs of mounting medical bills as the young man faces several surgeries.
Seabrook was among several dozen people who turned out Sunday for a “Justice For Rilyn” walk along Frederica Road. His aunt, Stephanie Ellis, organized the walk to raise awareness of Ellis’s needs.
The symbolic “Justice For Rilyn” walk was intended to finish his walk home on the night he was struck by a vehicle, Stephanie Ellis said on social media.
Ellis was walking north toward his home July 7 near South Harrington Drive when he was hit while crossing Frederica Road near St. Clair Parkway, police said.
The vehicle was northbound when it struck Ellis, police said. Police arrested Harris the next day. Glynn County Police told The News on Monday that the report on the incident still is not available.
Seabrook said she had her vehicle’s bright lights on when she drove up and spotted Ellis in the opposite lane. He was conscious, frightened, badly hurt and bleeding from his head, she said.
“He was in so much pain, part of his body was broken, his shoes were off,” Seabrook said. “He was so scared. He was saying, ‘Oh, gosh, I want to live, I want to live.’ He was just so so scared.”
After Seabrook called 911, she said a man drove upon the scene, pulled over and got out of his vehicle. She was still on the phone with dispatchers when the man also called 911, she said.
“They said, ‘We’re getting another call about this accident,’” Seabrook said. “I said, ‘I know. I’m right here.’”
The man remained on the opposite side of the road and did not speak until police arrived, she said. He talked with responding officers and then drove away, she said.
“I asked him if he had a towel for (Rilyn’s) head, but he would not talk to me at all,” Seabrook said.
Seabrook has spoken once with Rilyn by phone, and he expressed gratitude toward her for finding him in the darkness. “The way he was laying in the road, he could have easily been hit by the next car that came along,” Seabrook said. “I still don’t know anything about Brunswick or St. Simons yet. Looking back, I could have made a wrong turn. I am just thankful that I was able to be a blessing to him.”