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Pair hurt giving aid at crash ‘selfless,’ ‘kind’

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A high school student and a doctor who stopped to help people injured in a Detroit freeway crash received an outpouring of support Monday after being severely injured themselves when another vehicle hit them.

Sean English

Sean English, 17, a student at University of Detroit Jesuit High School, and Cynthia Ray, 47, a pulmonologist at Henry Ford Hospital, remained in critical condition Monday, a day after they were hit along Interstate 96, police said.

“Our beloved daughter and sister, Dr. Cynthia Ray, remains in critical condition at Sinai-Grace and we continue to pray for her recovery,” Ray’s family said in a statement Monday evening.

The man who drove the vehicle that struck English and Ray also was in critical condition, said Lt. Denise Powell, commander of the Michigan State Police Metro South Post in Detroit.

English, a cross-country runner who was riding to Mass with his parents, had a foot amputated.

Anthony Trudel, principal of University of Detroit Jesuit, said hundreds of students came together Monday to pray for English.

“We start the day with Mass and normally, we have a handful of kids who come,” Trudel said. “(Monday) morning, we packed the chapel. We let people know (Sunday) night the Mass would be dedicated to Sean and his family and more than 300 people showed up to pray, cry and be there for him.”

Trudel said English always thinks of others before himself.

“I think the term that everyone, his friends, his teachers and those who know him would describe Sean as selfless,” he said. “This is a kid you can go to for anything and he’ll be there.”

Trudel said English is a leader who “sets the example in the classroom and on his cross-country team.”

“He’s just an all-around awesome, great kid and selfless to the core,” he said.

Ray’s colleagues at Henry Ford Hospital described her as a caring physician.

Dr. Cynthia Ray

According to the health system’s website, Ray specializes in critical care, women’s lung health and lung cancer and interventional pulmonology.

“We were so saddened to hear the news about Dr. Cynthia Ray,” hospital officials said in a statement. “Ray has been with the Henry Ford family since 2005 and is widely known as a stellar physician and kind, compassionate colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Ray’s family and the entire Henry Ford pulmonary team.”

Powell said the crash happened about 7:50 a.m. on I-96 near the Davison Freeway in Detroit. An SUV carrying six people was eastbound on I-96 to the Davison when the driver lost control of the vehicle, which hit the center median wall and flipped over a couple of times before coming to rest in the left lane, the lieutenant said.

“Quite a few cars stopped to help,” she said. “We had probably five or six good Samaritans out on foot when another car came around the same curve, lost control, went into a spin and struck a majority of the pedestrians who were out there.”

English and Ray caught the brunt of the spinning car, according to police.

Police continue to investigate, Powell said. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor and she said investigators are awaiting results of toxicology exams and an accident reconstruction.

“We had quite a few injuries out there,” she said. “Right now, we’re waiting for the investigation to be completed.”

Michigan State Trooper Patrick Arenas told the media Monday he found English and Ray on the ground. After evaluating their conditions, he made treating English the priority. He immediately placed a tourniquet on English’s leg.

“That may have saved his life,” Powell said.

Trudel said English, who was traveling with his parents to St. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in downtown Detroit, also broke his femur, and a steel rod was surgically inserted into his leg.

The principal said he didn’t see English before his surgery Sunday but briefly spoke with his parents.

“His mom told me some things that are pretty much in line with his personality,” he said. “She said he had that Irish sense of humor and was cracking some jokes before he went into surgery. He also told her a couple of things. No. 1 he was worried about his homework. The second thing was he asked her, ‘Is this my fault?’ ”

“If that doesn’t speak volumes about this kid and his heart and his character,” Trudel said. “It’s unbelievable. He’s just a great kid.”

Detroit News Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.