September 2, 2010 Dolonier, Pohnpei, FSM-On the evening of Tues-day, August 31, Joseph Welson and Johnathon "Mikey" Laurdine were watching a basketball game that was going on inside the ramshackle Pohnpei Island Central School gym from outside of the gym when tragedy struck. At approximately 9:00 a car coming from the direction of the Seventh Day Adventist School past the gym swerved off the road and struck both of the young men.
Witnesses said that one of the tires ran completely over the midsection of Welson's body. Laurdine told his friends that he tried to get out of the way but was too late. The car hit him in the face and threw him into the street.
Dr. James Yaingeluo had just been talking with the two young men and was in his car preparing to leave when the other car swerved around his. He thought that the driver was a friend of the young men playing dangerous games at least until the car hit them both, and then hit a concrete utility pole before continuing down the road.
Two days later, Dr. Yaingeluo said that he took off after the driver hoping to at least get a license tag number. Mean-while he called the police on his cell phone. He said that about 100 yards down the road the car stopped.
Other witnesses said that the car had stalled.
Yaingeluo discovered that the driver was his brother in law, Paul Salvador. "I don't think he was trying to run," Yaingeluo said. When asked how Salvador got that far down the road after hitting two people and a utility pole Yaingeluo said, "It was probably just the momentum of the car."
He said that a crowd of angry people ran up to the wrecked and Yaingeluo, a large and powerful man had to tell them to back away. He stayed by the car until police came, then he went to help Wel-son and Laurdine. Yaingeluo said he was at the hospital until 4:00 in the morning helping to treat the two young men.
Police said that Salvador was intoxicated and arrested him. He spent the night in jail but was released on bail the following day.
Doctors took Welson into emergency surgery. His pelvis was broken and he had suffered substantial internal inju-ries. He is in critical condition awaiting clearance for an air evacuation to the Philippines for medical treatment. Family members say that they have been told that he still is suffering from internal bleeding and needs treatment not avail-able in Pohnpei as soon as possible.
Laurdine's face was cut up and several of his teeth were broken off at the gum line. His body was covered in bruises. Doctors stitched the wounds in his lips and his eyes after his admission but according to family members they were not seen again. Laurdine has since been transferred to the private Genesis Hospital.
Both Welson and Laurdine are outstanding athletes in Pohnpei.
Laurdine recently returned from the Mi-cro- Games in Palau where he scored a silver medal in competition on behalf of Pohnpei State.
Welson is one of the star players of the fledgling Pohnpei soccer team that is scheduled to compete in Guam beginning on September 30th (see article on page 16).
Neither of the two have health insurance. Welson, who is 17 years old, lives in Dolonier with his big brother Charles who is only 20, in the house that their grandmother, who raised them, left them when she died last year. Charles has not left the hospital and has eaten very little since Joseph was admitted on Tuesday night.
The team members of the Pohnpei Soccer team and the Pohnpei Track team have rallied around their downed team mates.
Dilshan Senarathgoda said that the Soccer team will be working at the Seventh Day Adventist School this weekend to begin the process of raising funds to help their teammate, their brother, with expenses.
This evening a donor from outside of Pohnpei was located who is willing to cover Welson's airfare when and if he is stable enough to go. Doctors have al-ready filled out the paper work required in order to get Welson onto a Continental Micronesia flight. Still, the earliest time that Welson might be able to leave is Tuesday the 7th of September if all goes well.
The track team will also be working to raise funds for the two athletes and has already committed what little money was left from that raised for their trip to the Micro-Games in Palau to help cover medical expenses that will be incurred at Genesis Hospital.
What the team members most want to do in addition to ensuring that all of their teammates' medical and incidental expenses are covered is to send a family member to the Philippines to accompany Joseph. "It would be terrible for him to wake up in a foreign country completely alone. He'd freak out," a friend exclaimed!
Donations to assist Joseph Welson and Mikey Laurdine can be made through the Seventh Day Adventist School. Johnson Masilamony, long time accountant at the school will ensure that the donations are properly directed.
Michaela Corr will be competing in the INS Marasong, a half marathon this Saturday. She has coached both track and soccer in Pohnpei and knows and respects both young men. She has coached both of them at one time or another during the last several years. If she wins a cash prize in the race this Saturday she will be donating all of it to help cover expenses for her two athletes.
Though Corr is only 25 years old her team members often call her mom-the head of the family-the team.
"I'll be running for these two boys and I'm going to run until I freakin' drop," she said during an interview at the Pohnpei State Hospital where she stood vigil with Joseph Welson's family members. She had her strong face on but it was a pretty thin veneer.