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Phoenix woman hit by suspected drunk driver struggles toward recovery

A Phoenix woman is struggling to survive after being hit by a suspected drunk driver one week ago in Syracuse. Jody Garofalo’s family is now asking why the man who was behind the wheel isn’t behind bars.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- A Phoenix woman is struggling to survive after being hit by a suspected drunk driver one week ago in Syracuse. Jody Garofalo’s family is now asking why the man who was behind the wheel isn’t behind bars.

As first responders rushed to Wolf Street days before Christmas, Jody Garofolo was still in shock, her arms, legs, and pelvis were fractured when an SUV hit her as she crossed the street.

"There was three times that they told me that she had passed. I brought my children down to say goodbye to her. They told the whole family, we are just basically packing her with blood,” said Jody’s husband Michael Garofalo.

Doctors used more than 115 units of blood in the first two days. Garofalo was put into an induced coma. Her body was too swollen to close the wounds after eight surgeries.

"It's an awful thing to have to go in that room and see your daughter like that and I wouldn't wish it on anybody,” said Jody’s father John VanAuken.

For a father, a husband, and Garofalo's 10 and 11-year-old children, the pain deepened as they learned the man behind the wheel is a suspected drunk driver.

48-year-old Russell Mike posted $7,500 bail, which got him out of jail as he awaits blood test results. Prosecutors requested he be held on $10,000.

Senior Assistant DA Chris Bednarski said, “We’re not happy with the amount of bail.”

Garofalo's family isn't happy either.

"He spent Christmas home with his family and me and my kids were up in the hospital with their mother in critical condition,” Michael said.

“She's sentenced for the rest of her life in aches and pains and hardships,” VanAuken said.

Garofalo's children opened most of their Christmas gifts in a hospital room, setting aside the presents their mom bought, with the hope that she’d wake up soon.

"All my son keeps saying is he wants to talk to her, hear her talk, for her to give him a hug. Until that happens, I really can't think of anything else."

Mike hopes his wife's story makes others consider giving blood, knowing donations have kept Jody alive.

Defense Attorney Sheldon Gould said he spoke to Russell Mike's family, "They feel bad for Jody Garofalo and her family and they are praying for her."

Charges against Mike include DWI and seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police say they found a small amount of cocaine in his pocket. Police stressed that the investigation is ongoing as they are still waiting for official blood test results.
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