In one moment, the lives of a young Parkwood couple changed.
Michael Gordon and Catherine Hagan, both 31, had decided to take a trip up to Lancaster. It was a typical excursion for the two, who both enjoy hiking, fishing and other outdoorsy activities.
After having a few drinks at Quips Pub, a popular bar in downtown Lancaster, they decided to stay the night at a hotel across the street.
“We both were having a good time and walked outside and that’s where my memory ends,” Gordon said.
The couple, who got engaged nearly two years ago, were hit by a driver while crossing two-lane New Holland Avenue at around 1:45 a.m. Jan. 12. The driver didn’t stay at the scene but turned himself in hours later at a police station in a nearby town.
Gordon may never be able to use his right arm again and injured both legs, but his fiancee got the worst of it. Since the crash, Hagan has been in a drug-induced coma. She suffered a ruptured bladder, cracked skull, facial fractures, broken leg and other injuries, he said.
“My fiance has the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever met,” Gordon said, through tears, last week from his hospital bed in Lancaster. “She is the strongest person male or female that I’ve ever met, and I know she’s going to get through this. I just pray to God she will.”
Hagan was transferred to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Her condition has been improving, and she was able to squeeze her sister’s hand, Gordon’s family said.
Gordon, meanwhile, has had several pins and rods put in his leg. It will be a long recovery process for him.
“I’m going to have to go to rehab to basically learn how to walk with these injuries again and try to regain use of my right hand and my right arm,” he said.
“My right hand is my life. I make a living off that hand,” Gordon added. “Even if I was to get out of here, I don’t know. It kind of ruined a lot of things.”
He hopes to be transferred to a Philadelphia hospital to be near Hagan, but he has been stuck in Lancaster waiting for beds to open up.
The couple has been saving for a wedding. Less than a year ago, both got their first-ever “solid jobs,” Gordon said. He landed a position as a building maintenance mechanic for the Philadelphia Water Department, and Hagan has been working as a receptionist at a medical center.
Hagan and Gordon grew up a block away in Parkwood and knew each other as kids. They reconnected about five years ago, when Gordon asked her out on a date. They’ve been together since and love to explore new places.
“Every single weekend for the last five years I’ve been outside with that woman,” Gordon said. “If we’re not going somewhere we’ve already been, we’re going somewhere new. If we’re not hiking up some mountain, we’re fishing some creek.”
That’s what they were doing in the hours before the crash. Gordon said they scoped out some fishing spots they planned to return to in the spring.
Police in Lancaster continue to investigate the crash. Charges have not yet been filed against the driver, a 26-year-old man from Mount Joy. His name has not been released.
Gordon said he was amazed by the level of support for him and Hagan.
“I don’t think it’s me that they love, and I don’t think it’s me that they are donating for,” he said. “I’d like to think they’re donating for her.” ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.