Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Neighbors, friends unite to help family

School and community sending good wishes and gifts to Jovel family

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Photo courtesy of Lorie Quinn⁄Rocky Hill Middle School
Classmates of Luis Jovel at Rocky Hill Middle School show a T-shirt they signed for the boy on Monday. Pictured are (front row, left to right) Diego Portillo, Cody Dennis and Richard Hoffmann, and (back row, left to right) Andrew Kim, Robbie McNair, Jeff Parker, Vahagn Aghekyan, Tommy DeReggi, Kiran Geeban, Anthony Briganty and Max Schwartzback.
Clarksburg residents are raising money and offering to help the family of a 12-year-old boy who was hit by a police cruiser on Stringtown Road two weeks ago.

Luis A. Jovel remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Tuesday morning, said Officer Tenesha Bellamy, a county police spokeswoman.

The incident happened about 3:40 p.m. April 29 in the 23800 block of Stringtown Road in Clarksburg, said Lt. Paul Starks, director of media services for the Montgomery County Police Department.

Officer Paul Cokinos, 23, who was off duty, was driving west on Stringtown when his cruiser struck the boy, who was in the roadway, Starks said. The child was flown by helicopter to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Cokinos has been on paid administrative leave. He is expected to return to duty tonight, Bellamy said. The police collision reconstruction unit will not complete its investigation for a few more weeks, said Capt. John Damskey, head of the police special operations division.

Luis is a sixth-grader at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg. A portion of the proceeds from the school’s annual Willpower basketball game, which raises money for cancer research, will be given to the Jovel family, said Terri Tippett, a physical education teacher at Rocky Hill and organizer of Friday’s game.

Parents of Rocky Hill students will play members of the school’s staff in the game.

Money will also be raised from a dinner, silent auction and raffle. Raffle tickets are on sale all week during lunch periods. There is no admission to the game, but donations will be accepted at the door.

The event is expected to raise about $10,000. Some $300 to $500 of the money will be used to buy gas and food cards for the Jovel family.

‘‘We have a very caring school community here,” Tippett said. ‘‘The kids know about it, they are asking about it and they want to know how he is. A couple of kids have gone to the hospital. There are good things coming out of a scary situation right now.”

Lorie Quinn, a sixth-grade math teacher, said that 11 of Luis’ sixth-grade outdoor education cabin mates signed a T-shirt for him Monday.

The T-shirt has a picture of them together at the cabin. The students wrote messages on the T-shirt, which will be taken to him at the hospital and possibly hung on the wall, Quinn said.

‘‘At first, they were having fun because they were talking about their cabin memories, especially the ones with Luis,” Quinn said. ‘‘When they started signing it, they started missing him. The mood became somber.”

Students have been sending notes to Luis in the hospital, she said.

Rocky Hill staff members have been donating money to the Jovels, said Nanette Davila, the school’s administrative secretary.

Neighbors are also helping the family.

Robin Asbury, who lives on the 25300 block of Stringtown Road, said neighbors have a goal of raising $500 for the family. The boy’s parents have not worked since the incident and his mother has not left the hospital since her son was injured, she said.

‘‘It is sad and it is one of our own,” Asbury said. ‘‘It is right here in front of us. I feel bad for the parents. My son and him have been friends since kindergarten.”

Asbury, who owns a landscaping business, said she would cut the Jovel family’s grass free of charge until the entire family returns home. Neighbors also want to give food to the family, but they have not been home to receive it.

Staff Writer Patricia M. Murret contributed to this report.

to help

Neighbors are taking a collection to help the Jovel family. To donate money, call Robin Asbury at 301-674-6116.