‘He’s not a statistic’: Family advocates for change after Mt. Juliet teen struck by SUV

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MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Mt. Juliet family is pleading for more protection for pedestrians after a 17-year-old was placed on life support.

The incident happened Sunday evening when an SUV hit Jeizon Aremellano Hernandez, while he was changing a tire on the side of the road.

“About two minutes from the Mt. Juliet exit, we were about to be home,” remembered Brandon Arellano. “I came back to a phone call; my mom said my brother was unconscious.”

Arellano says it was a typical evening with his brother Jeizon and their father. When the tire on the car they were riding in suddenly popped, Arellano says that’s when Jeizon got out of the car and went to help change the tire.

“Hearing about it, disbelief, but I’m utterly gutted,” said Raub Nash, with Barca Academy Nashville.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the driver of an SUV swerved and hit a box trailer. Jeizon was standing next to the trailer when he was hit.

The 17-year-old was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and placed on life support. His soccer coach announced his death Friday afternoon.

“Jeizon touched a lot of people in 17 years,” said Roger Hess. “He did not follow anybody; he was his own person and he was a leader out there.”

Hess was a long-time coach of Jeizon’s and described him as someone who had a passion for soccer, a sport that has been engrained in his life since he was young. Arellano said Jeizon was never far from his best friend Auggie O’Shaughnessy. The two were known to dominate the soccer field together.

“There is no denying Jeizon’s ability,” said Raub Nash. “It’s the same story I tell to everybody; it doesn’t matter in this situation or in any other situation about Jeizon. Jeizon was the first person to come and sign up for tryouts two years ago, the first person out of over 700.”

Family and friends are now calling for more protection for pedestrians. The family created a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.

“It happens; he’s not a statistic. He should be safe with us at home, waiting for his next match to start,” said Hess.

Last year, Walk Bike Nashville reported there were 39 pedestrians hit and killed in the city. So far, they have tracked 19 deaths in 2021. The numbers outpace what Nashville saw this time last year.

According to Walk Bike Nashville, seven roads in Nashville are responsible for half of the pedestrian deaths. Roads like Gallatin, Dickerson, Murfreesboro, and Nolensville pikes. The organization says speeding greatly increases your chance of a crash happening with a person walking. They also said three out of four pedestrian fatalities happen at night, calling for more lights to be added to streets and crosswalks.

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