In October 2019, Michelle Scott was struck by a hit-and-run driver while bicycling to work on state Route 67 in Ramona. Nearly a year after the devastating accident, she remains in a rehabilitation facility, medically stable but unable to communicate.
In an exclusive interview with NBC7.com, Don Scott talked about the emotional challenges of supporting his wife’s recovery despite being unable to make physical contact with her because of COVID restrictions.
“I’m at a loss of the exact explanation of how I feel," Don said. "I would do anything to be with my wife right now.”
After the accident, Don, who has been married to Michelle for 33 years, visited her virtually every day. But since the pandemic hit, he has been able to see her only three times in the last five months. And like other family members who have been unable to make close contact with hospitalized loved ones, Don has only been able to see his wife from a distance.
“I’ve had to see her from my car driver's seat with the windows partially open, a mask on, my wife completely covered and a mask on," Don said. "I was only able to see her eyes.”
Michelle makes eye contact and is able to blink her eyes to ask questions.
Don is fearful that the loss of close contact and physical touch could hamper his wife’s recovery. Prior to coronavirus restrictions, he was able to make frequent visits.
“When I had asked her to squeeze my arm or to give me a response, it was a positive response, although it wasn’t 100% of the time, each time" Don said. "I’d seen a difference in response that I’m not seeing now because of the distancing."
The driver convicted of hitting Michelle, Chase Richard, is serving a three-year, eight-month sentence for felony reckless driving.
Investigators said that Richard hid his vehicle in his garage and spray-painted it a different color.
Rather than vent any anger toward Richard, Don said he has chosen to devote his energy to his wife’s well-being.
“It’s not going to be productive at all for me to be angry at Mr. Richard, regardless of how I feel about the situation," Don said. "We have to distance ourselves."
Richard’s sentence includes 20 months of mandatory community service. Don insisted on community service at the time of sentencing, citing his wife’s devotion to community.
“I hope Mr. Richard can see those same benefits, and the light will come on,” Don said.