Wade Souster makes recovery progress; $2,500 reward offered - FOX 35 News Orlando

St. Paul hit-and-run victim makes recovery progress; $2,500 reward offered

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

It's been just over a month since a passerby found a St. Paul man unconscious in the middle of the street, and though Wade Souster is recovering, the driver who hit him is still on the loose.

Although Souster was left for dead, he is making progress in what will be a long recovery. He was walking home from a first date near Lake Phalen when someone in a dark car hit him, leaving his loved ones with plenty of questions as they watched Souster make the struggle of his life in the hospital.

"It's been a roller coaster of ups and downs, trying to figure everything out," Angie Hammerlindl, Souster's cousin, told Fox 9 News.

Clutching a teddy bear in his bed at Bethesda Hospital, baby steps are turning into giant leaps for Souster.

"From where we started -- amazing," Hammerlindl said. "He's up and talking. He can carry on a conversation. His short-term memory is pretty quick. He can go 2 minutes; then, he'll start to repeat."

The impact broke every bone from the top of Souster's skull to his jaw, and he also suffered a broken leg, a punctured lung and a traumatic brain injury. After the crash, Souster was in a coma.

Now that he's awake, he's blind in his left eye, but he doesn't realize he's had surgery to repair the broken bones in his leg and face. That's why doctors put a net around his bed to keep him from climbing out, and his family has to explain what happened to him over and over again.

"For us, it's reliving where we were at the beginning," Hammerlindl explained. "A month ago, we didn't know if he'd be talking. He's keeping full conversations, but it's kind of like breaking his heart every time he remembers to ask the question."

Making matters worse, Souster doesn't remember anything about the accident and so far, police have few leads. All they know is that they are looking for a dark car with front-end damage.

However, Souster's family believes whoever hit him must have a heavy heart, and they hope that will inspire the driver to come forward and answer the questions they've been grappling with for weeks.

"Why? Why did you leave him? Why can't you just pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, this is what happened. I'm sorry'?" Hammerlindl asked. "Just  give us some relief because the not knowing is hard."

Going forward, Souster's family hopes Uncle Wade will be well enough to go fishing and collect rocks with his many nieces and nephews by next summer. Until then, they will continue to celebrate the small victories that have come to mean so much.

"Keep counting on those baby steps," Hammerlindl said. "We'll get through it, slowly but surely."

Souster's family members say it could take 6 to 8 weeks before his legs are strong enough to start physical therapy, but his doctors believe he will walk again.

Friends and family are also planning a benefit concert next month to help cover the cost of his medical bills, and the Downtowner Car Wash, where Souster worked, is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

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