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Family seeks answers for man's injury; 24-year-old in coma after suspected hit-and-run.

Byline: Elaine Thompson

DUDLEY -- Family members of a 24-year-old man who is in a coma after a suspected hit-and-run accident hope the public can help them find out what happened.

Patricia St. Marie said family members believe her brother-in-law, Daniel St. Marie, was struck by a vehicle around 2:15 a.m. April 19 as he crossed Schofield Avenue (Route 12) in front of Stevens Linen Mill.

Mrs. St. Marie said her brother-in-law was intoxicated and had just left his apartment to catch up with his live-in girlfriend, Chelsea Murray, who was walking ahead of him. The two had had an argument and Ms. Murray had left the apartment.

Mr. St. Marie, a musician who worked odd jobs, was the primary care giver of his 78-year-old father, Raymond St. Marie, who has dementia. After the elder St. Marie's wife, Patsy, died last year, he, his son and his son's girlfriend moved into the apartment attached to the home where Patricia St. Marie and her family live. Family members are now pitching in to care for Raymond St. Marie, she said.

Mrs. St. Marie said Ms. Murray, who she does not believe was intoxicated, was walking on the sidewalk a distance ahead of her brother-in-law and did not see the accident. A motorist who drove by saw Mr. St. Marie lying on the side of the road and called police.

Mrs. St. Marie said police have not been able to determine what happened. They told her they are waiting for a written statement from Ms. Murray.

"I'm essentially the investigator of this incident and I'm a little frustrated at this point,'' Mrs. St. Marie said Wednesday. "When I speak to them (the police) they're kind and helpful, but I feel like I'm the catalyst for this.''

Police Chief Steven J. Wojnar said that after receiving a call from the passer-by motorist, police and paramedics found Mr. St. Marie lying on the side of the road unconscious, with injuries to his head and other parts of his body. He was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center -- University Campus in Worcester. His family said he is in an induced coma, on life support, in the intensive care unit with severe traumatic brain injuries.

"We're not comfortable putting this out as a hit-and-run. We're waiting for the other witness to come in and give us a statement. We're trying to figure out what took place,'' the Chief Wojnar said. "The incident began as a domestic incident. At this point, we're looking at any number of possibilities. It could have been an assault or an accidental slip-and-fall injury.''

Mrs. St. Marie said the couple did have an argument, but she was not aware of any physical fights between the two. She said the family suspects he was hit by a vehicle. And they're not sure if the driver is even aware of hitting someone.

"There is no other way to explain his injuries. He has severe head trauma, a fractured skull and a broken toe. He also had to have stitches above one of his eyes. He has road rash on his extremities and a bit on his face,'' she said. "I find it absurd that they (police) would think otherwise.'' She said doctors removed half of Mr. St. Marie's skull last week to relieve the swelling.

Chief Wojnar said there was road rash on Mr. St. Marie's body, but "it could have been obtained in any number of ways. We haven't discounted anything as far as an accident or any other likely cause.''

Mrs. St. Marie, a traveling speech language therapist and technology therapist for several school districts, said she is very concerned about her brother-in-law's brain activity. His sister, Monique St. Marie, a physical therapist, is just as concerned about what his motor capabilities will be.

"We don't know the extent of his injuries because they can't bring him out of the coma because he's fighting acute respiratory distress syndrome,'' she said.

She said her brother-in-law has no medical insurance. His friends have planned a fundraiser to help with his medical expenses. Information is available at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-daniel-st-marie-with-medical-expenses. The Facebook hashtag being used is #jammindan.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Dudley police at (508) 943-4417.

Contact Elaine Thompson at elaine.thompson@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @EThompsonTG
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Thompson, Elaine
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 30, 2015
Words:722
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