Tuesday was a memorable and positive day for the Kelley family, now that 19-year-old Jack Kelley is out of the ICU.
The family announced on Facebook on Tuesday that Jack was out of the ICU nearly three weeks after the Feb. 28 crash that left him in critical condition. This step in his recovery brought joy to his loved ones.
A Facebook post said it was, “The best day our family has ever had.”
“We are feeling ecstatic. Getting him out of the ICU is a huge step, though he has a long, long way to go,” said Jack’s father, Mike Kelley.
Thousands of people watched the dramatic video footage from the day the vehicle Jack Kelley was driving was hit in Sarasota and flipped over multiple times.
Kelley said his son suffered traumatic brain injuries but is now able to eat, breathe and talk on his own.
“Jack has shown amazing progress. He is a stubborn kid and is showing it by fighting really, really hard,” Kelley said.
Throughout his time in the hospital, Jack has been surrounded by family and friends.
Kelley said family is by Jack’s side 12 hours a day, and Jack’s sister — who is away at college — has been able to talk to him over Facetime.
The outpouring of love from Jack’s friends and the community has been “amazing,” Kelley said. They’ve had home-cooked meals provided by members of the community and messages have poured in to the Jack Kelley #JackStrong Facebook page.
“Jack clearly touched a lot of people’s lives,” Kelley said.
Video footage of the incident captured thousands of eyes and has garnered support for Jack and his family from around the world, Kelley said.
Support has also poured in from the basketball community, including Jack’s former teammates and coaches from Lakewood Ranch High School, travel teams and State College of Florida.
Lakewood Ranch boys basketball coach Jeremy Schiller previously told the Bradenton Herald his team was playing for Jack, who he said was “one of their brothers.”
The next step in his recovery is strengthening his body and getting physical therapy.
Surveillance video captured footage of the crash and the vehicle rolling through The Lantern Inn and Suites, 7251 N. Tamiami Trail, parking lot around 7:45 a.m. that day.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers who investigated the crash said the driver of a tan 2003 Kia Sedona tried to turn left from the median of North Tamiami Trail into the entrance of a RaceTrac gas station. The Kia drove into the path of a 2018 Audi A3 being driven by Kelley.
Kelley tried to avoid the collision but his vehicle was struck and overturned several times, knocking out part of a wall around the hotel’s pool and hitting a parked vehicle, according to FHP.
The driver of the Kia, 24-year-old Zachari Brock, took off.
Brock, was arrested after what FHP called an “exhaustive criminal investigation.” Brock was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving serious injury and driving without a valid license. He was also written a citation for making a left turn into oncoming traffic.
After he was released from jail on bond, Brock told Spectrum Bay News 9 he left the scene of the crash because he “just got scared.”
“I’m really sorry about what happened to this kid that was involved in this accident with me,” Brock told Bay News 9 at the time. “It could easily have been avoided if I wasn’t driving because I don’t have my license.”
Kelley said although learning about the crash was the scariest moment of his life, he understands people make mistakes and that Brock made one the day of the crash.
“I invite him to come down and he can visit my son and look at him, and see how (he) feel(s). Now, maybe this will resonate with (him) because (he has) a kid,” Kelley said.