By Shaddi Abusaid, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga (CNT)
An Atlanta 15-year-old is recovering after being struck by a truck last week and breaking his leg while selling bottled water at a busy Midtown intersection.
Jamarkis Jackson, a freshman at Carver High School in southeast Atlanta, was earning money for his mother and five younger siblings when he was hit by the truck Sept. 28, school officials said.
He suffered a broken left leg and deep cuts to his face, said Charles Ross, school engagement manager for Price Middle School, where Jackson’s siblings attend. The teen is expected to be OK, but he won’t be able to earn money for several weeks as he recovers.
His mother has health issues and isn’t working either, according to Ross, who said the woman and her six children are at risk of losing their apartment in the next few months.
In the meantime, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Jackson’s medical expenses and support his family as the 15-year-old heals. As of Wednesday afternoon, the page had raised nearly $14,000.
Officers responded to the crash at 17th and Spring streets just before 5:30 p.m., according to an Atlanta police report. Jackson was selling bottled water to drivers at the intersection when a man in a white pickup truck threw several dollars out the window.
Jackson attempted to grab the cash off the pavement when the light turned green and the driver accelerated, striking the teen’s leg and causing him to hit his face on the truck’s trailer, witnesses told police. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where doctors set his leg and stitched up his face, Ross said.
Jackson is recovering and is in good spirits, but he may have to undergo additional procedures to repair deep gashes under his left eye and on the bridge of his nose.
The driver who hit him remained on scene and spoke with police, but officers determined he wasn’t at fault. Jackson, however, was cited for standing in the roadway, according to police.
Atlanta city officials have started cracking down on teens selling bottled water in recent months following a string of shootings, robberies and injuries at busy intersections.
“We appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of youth who are selling water to motorists,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said previously. “But we have seen an increase in unsafe and violent activity in some locations and cannot allow it to continue.”
Ross said the vast majority of his students come from low-income families, and that for many, selling water is the only way to help their parents pay bills. While most high school students are preoccupied with friends and school, Jackson could earn between $200 and $300 a day to help his brothers and sisters, who are 13, 10, 9, 7 and 5.
“Usually people pay $1 for a bottle of water, but a lot of times they give a little bit more,” said Ross, adding he understands the lure of selling water at an intersection, even if the practice is frowned upon by city officials and police.
“He’s just a microcosm of what’s going on across the city,” Ross said. “I know we have students who are still selling water because they have to. It’s the only way they can make some money, keep food on the table and make sure the power and gas stays on.”