MERCED -- A 51-year-old Merced man who was struck by a hit-and-run driver earlier this month remains hospitalized with a serious head trauma.
Meanwhile, family members made a special plea on Thursday, asking whoever is responsible for the crash to come forward.
Ignacio Gonzalez sustained the head injury after he was hit the afternoon of Sept. 3 while riding his bike on Martin Luther King Jr. Way and East 13th Street.
Gonzalez was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, where he's listed in fair condition. Gonzalez's niece Ana Luzania, 29, and his sister, Belia Solano, 59, say he's been unconscious since shortly after the crash.
Because the incident happened during the day at a relatively busy section of road, Luzania feels there are witnesses who've yet to come forward.
She said her uncle suffered from swelling on his brain because of the crash. "He's not waking up. He's not responding to the doctors' commands," Luzania said. "So, it's basically him fighting for his life right now."
The crash has been particularly hard on Gonzalez's wife, Minnie, and their two teenage sons. "We need a lot a prayers out there so he can fight and wake up," Luzania said.
Solano said the person who hit her brother should visit him in the hospital, to see in person the damage that was done.
"You don't even hit a dog and leave him laying there, let alone a human," she said. "I just hope that person goes to the police and says 'I hit him.' Be responsible."
Authorities say that on the day of the crash, the car, described as a white or silver sedan, was traveling behind Gonzalez. After Gonzalez turned right onto East 13th Street, the sedan struck his rear tire. Gonzalez went forward and struck his head on the ground, police said.
Police said the sedan drove off without stopping.
Gonzalez was talkative when police arrived, but hasn't been conscious since. In his comments to police at the scene, he indicated the driver may have been female. Officers have no other details.
Sgt. Jay Struble said police need help from witnesses. "We're going to need someone from the community to come forward to be able to solve this," he said.
In the meantime, Gonzalez's family members say they'll continue to pray at his bedside. If Gonzalez survives, Luzania said her uncle may have to relearn many basic functions people take for granted, such as walking and talking.
"I just pray to God that he will make it through this, because the doctors say they've done all they can," Solano said. "But I believe the doctor upstairs is more powerful. We're going to leave it in God's hands now."
Police are asking anyone with information about the case to call Sgt. Jay Struble at (209) 385-4739 or the department's automated tip line at (209) 385-4725. Witnesses can text a tip to TIP411 (847411) using "comvip" as the first word in the text message.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.