Family of teen hit by car seek to clear up false information

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MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Family members of the girl hit by a car Saturday afternoon say they want people to know the truth about what happened.

“It’s been a nightmare. It’s like a bad dream you keep waiting to wake up from,” said uncle Christopher McCleary.

Reilea McCleary and her dog were hit on Dewitt Avenue near North 26th Street. Her family says a lot of wrong information was spread after it happened. They want to set the record straight.

The girl is in critical condition, but her family says she’s stable. She has a broken pelvis, fractured skull, fractured sternum, punctured lung, bruised heart, and bruised lung. Her dog also has a long recovery ahead, but her family says they’re hopeful.

“We’re praying. A lot of prayers,” said McCleary. “She’s still not awake or speaking. She’s still on a ventilator. She’s still in pretty bad shape right now.”

The teen and her dog were hit on Dewitt Avenue near North 26th Street in Mattoon. On top of that, her family says people don’t know what happened and are being judgmental.

“A lot of misinformation going on,” said McCleary.

Early in the investigation, police said the 15-year-old’s dog lunged into the street when the teenager was walking her, but her uncle says that’s not true. He says they weren’t walking at all.

“Someone had had some puppies across the street, Luna had seen them so she had jumped out of the car, tried to run over,” said McCleary. “She ran out, got ahold of the dog’s collar on the side of the road, and basically the dog had lunged once, she got Luna back. Reilea was holding on still. She lunged again, and that’s when she got pulled out into the road.”

But that’s not what he’s most concerned about. He says his family feels the driver who hit her could have avoided it.

“A lot of the family feels maybe he wasn’t paying attention like he should’ve been.”

Mattoon police say state police are still reconstructing the accident, but right now they don’t have any reason to believe the 85-year-old driver was speeding or not paying attention. They say there was probably a driver in front of him blocking his view of her and the dog. While police handle those details, McCleary says the family is holding out hope that the 15-year-old will be her old self again soon.

“She’s got her whole life ahead of her, and she means the world to us.”

Luna is at the vet in Mattoon, but McCleary says the plan is for her to be taken to U of I Vet Med. The family is trying to raise money to pay for those vet and doctor bills.

To learn more and donate to the family, go here.

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