INDIANAPOLIS — Family members say an Elwood man is fighting for his life after he was struck by a vehicle late Sunday night in a hit-and-run on the Indianapolis’ west side.
According to police, around 11:50 p.m. Sunday, the victim was working for a security company that was directing traffic after a water main break in the area of W. Morris Street and Dukane Court.
Officials said a lane on W. Morris St. was closed as crews worked to fix the break. Workers said a vehicle that appeared to be speeding approached the work site, and despite their efforts to get them to slow down, they did not.
The driver hit a worker, whose family identifies as 50-year-old Joshua Clabaugh, and fled the scene.
Police have not released any descriptions of vehicles or made any arrests in the case, which is why family says they are pleading with anyone who has information on the driver or vehicle, to come forward.
“He didn’t deserve this. He’s got a wonderful wife and kids and grandbabies at home,” said Mike Clabaugh, Joshua’s cousin, “He’s in very bad shape fighting for his life right now.”
Clabaugh said he found out about what had happened Monday morning when Joshua’s wife reached out to his wife. He described the emotions he felt when he learned what happened as ‘gut-wrenching.’
Clabaugh said Joshua’s injuries are severe, and on Wednesday, he underwent surgery to treat a brain bleed.
“He has got a lot of blood collecting on his brain, severe facial trauma is beyond belief, all of his ribs are broken, hole in his lung, his liver is bleeding, his pancreas is bleeding,” said Clabaugh.
A neighbor who lives nearby the site where crews were working to fix the broken water main said the impact was so loud, that he heard it as he was in his bedroom.
“I heard something, a loud noise and I thought it might’ve caved in and somebody might’ve bottomed out on the hole,” said Dennis Weddle. “I looked out and I saw that guy laying in the ditch.”
Weddle said he doesn’t understand what someone was thinking, leaving the scene of a crash.
“To make that kind of a noise he had to have been hit pretty hard,” he said. “The one lane was blocked so I don’t know why anybody would be going that fast through there.”
Clabaugh said he can understand if it was just an accident, but what he also doesn’t understand is how anyone could have left his cousin, who he considers his brother, on the side of the road, fighting for his life.
“Stop, take responsibility,” he said. “Somebody knows something.”
“They’ve got a conscience. They know what’s right and wrong. You know something out there. You know what’s right and wrong,” said Clabaugh.
Clabaugh said Joshua is a hardworking family man, who loves his wife, children and grandkids more than anything.
“Loves his country, jokester, loves to play around and have a good time. He’s a great friend. A great brother,” said Clabaugh.
After an open-heart surgery that left Clabaugh hospitalized, he said Joshua was there for him the entire time, visiting him in the hospital in early 2020.
“He’s a brother to me. I mean, he was there when I needed him the most,” said Clabaugh.
Because hospital visitor restrictions and limitations are still in place due to COVID-19, Clabaugh hasn’t been able to physically visit Joshua yet, but said he has an army of people pulling for him.
“There are so many people like, ‘he’s a fighter, he’s a fighter he’s gonna make it.’ That’s all he can do and now it’s in the doctors and the lord’s hands,” said Clabaugh.
Neighbor Dennis Weddle said he saw Joshua trying to move after the crash before the ambulance arrived and hoped that was a good sign that his injuries weren’t too serious.
“I didn’t think he was hurt that bad, but now that I know that he is, he’s gonna be in my prayers for sure,” said Weddle.
Joshua’s wife texted Clabaugh Wednesday morning to tell him that there were signs of hope. She told him that Joshua was able to use his finger to try and write out words
He said Joshua’s wife shared with him that Joshua was able to use his finger to try and write out words.
“He’s got a wonderful family at home and he sure don’t deserve this and most of all his wife doesn’t deserve this, they’ve been together since we were kids,” said Clabaugh.
Clabaugh said Joshua has worked the night shift for some time. He understands it can be dark and other factors may come into play at night, but that it’s never right to hit someone and leave.
“At some point, that weighs on you,” he said, “If somebody knows something, just say something. It’s not worth it.”
CBS4 also spoke with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) about work zone safety and what they say people should do when you approach a work zone.
“You’re taking someone’s life in your hands when you fly through a work zone, when you’re not paying attention, but you’re also taking your own life in your hands as well,” said Mallory Duncan, Communications Director for INDOT.
Duncan said this same rule of thumb also applies to maintenance zones, which pick up and move at a fluid rate. These are typically on interstates and state roads.
“This is not just about our crews on the side of the road, this is about all Hoosiers and all people that are traveling through the state. This is something to keep you safe. We don’t pick a speed limit in a work zone just arbitrarily, and the number one reason is safety,” said Duncan.
IMPD said as of Wednesday, there have not been any arrests made in the case. There is also no description of the vehicle allegedly involved in the hit-and-run.
Anyone with information is asked to call to call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS.
You can also call the IMPD Hit and Run Office at 317-327-6549.