Tyrone Man Recovering After Near-Fatal Accident in Jenkintown

Aaron Elliott

For more information or to donate, go to: www.gofundme.com/aaron-elliot-benefit-fund

By Tim McCloskey

A young County Tyrone man is in stable condition after being struck by a car on York Road in Jenkintown, PA late on Saturday, August 26.

Aaron Elliott, of Clonoe, was on his way to Buckets Tavern on West Avenue to watch the Mayweather-McGregor boxing match when the accident occurred. The 22-year-old was found unconscious in the street. The fight fan is now fighting for his life.

The details of the incident are still sketchy. When he arrived by ambulance at Abington Memorial Hospital, it was discovered that he suffered a fractured skull, a shattered elbow, a severe blood clot, internal bleeding and a collapsed lung, leaving him in critical condition. He was immediately taken into emergency surgery. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating with authorities.

Elliott’s sister Laura and her boyfriend Ronan Fay immediately flew to Philadelphia from Northern Ireland to be at his hospital bedside.

“We were expecting the worst and thought he was dead,” Fay told the Belfast Telegraph.

“He was actually dead at the scene and was given CPR by a local policeman after he was found unresponsive and without a pulse. He started to breath but was still unconscious.”

Mr. Elliott has been in the area only a few months.  He is a popular figure in the local young Irish expat community and star player for the Kevin Barry Gaelic Football Club.  News of his predicament was devastating to his friends.

“I was gutted,” said Declan Goodfellow, originally from Eglish, County Armagh, now living in Philadelphia more than five years.

Goodfellow also plays for the Kevin Barrys and has known Elliott for more than 10 years. He has helped to set up a GoFundMe page to offset the cost of his friend’s medical expenses, which at this point are incalculable.  Elliott has no American medical insurance and will not be in any shape to fly home to Ireland for many months.  The goal of the page was modestly set at $100,000.  The total bills are expected to be much, much more.

To help cheer up his friend, Goodfellow reached out for support from some of Elliott’s favorite professional athletes. Irish boxer JohnJoe Nevin, the Olympic silver medalist from Mullingar who sometimes trains in the Philly area, re-tweeted Aaron’s story and the link to the GoFundMe page, but it was UFC fighter Eddie Alvarez who really went above and beyond.  Goodfellow sent Alvarez “a hopeful tweet” and was pleasantly surprised by Eddie’s quick and heartfelt response.  At his earliest opportunity, Alvarez drove to Abington and sat and spoke with Aaron and Goodfellow.

“Eddie took a real interest in Aaron’s story and situation. He has helped out a great deal,” Goodfellow told me by phone.

“He talked about his own life and struggles, his career and how it started. He was relating to Aaron that he also had bad head injury, not as severe as Aaron’s, but he talked about the therapy he went through.  He generously offered to get in touch with his team of neurosurgeons, therapists and a masseuse on behalf of Aaron. He talked about fighters in the UFC. He talked about everything.  He was there almost three hours, and by the end it was like he was an old friend.”

Alvarez has been making the media rounds to promote the reality TV series “The Ultimate Fighter,” and has taken every opportunity to spread Aaron’s story.

“There’s a kid, he plays for Philadelphia GAA, he was hit by a car really bad,” Eddie told WMMR’s Preston and Steve Morning Show.  

“He’s an Irish kid that came over here about a couple of months ago and he’s recovering right now in Abington Memorial Hospital. I wanted to go check him out. He’s a living miracle. He’s talking to me, walking like a normal person. Just two weeks ago, he bashed his skull open, broke a couple of things.”

“The guy’s fighting a fight and he’s doing it unbelievable. So just keep an eye out for this kid.”

The interview was later rebroadcast on the UFC VLOG and has gained international attention for the GoFundMe page.

A benefit night was quickly thrown together at Sona Pub & Kitchen in Manayunk, whose owners hail from Derry and Tyrone.

“It went well, “proprietor Brian McGarrity, from Dunagannon, told me by email.

“It was a good day’s craic for a good cause. We donated 30 percent of our food sales, which came to $1,500 and another $1,500 was collected, so $3,000 all together.  Nice wee lifter.”

Another larger benefit is being planned for at the Irish Center on Emlen Street for October 8.

While Aaron’s condition seemed to improve quicker than anyone had expected, he still has a long way to go.  Doctor’s originally expected him to be hospitalized for at least six weeks, but he was discharged early and some feel it was due to his lack of health insurance.  He is currently staying with friends from the Kevin Barrys in Cheltenham.

“It’s not as good as everyone thought at first.  He does have brain damage. Short term, they are really worried about him.  He’s doing his physical therapy every day. There is a lot of care still involved. He is not in the clear just yet.”

For more information or to donate, go to: www.gofundme.com/aaron-elliot-benefit-fund

Photos courtesy of Declan Goodfellow.