DOWNTOWN — Family members of the 28-year-old Santa Monica woman who was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident on Main Street Monday said she is recovering, but doctors are still trying to determine the extent of her brain injury.
Brittany Norton is currently in the Nuerointensive Care Unit at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center receiving treatment. She was taken off a ventilator and is conscious and responsive, her aunt, Maureen Norton, said.
In addition to the severe head trauma, Brittany Norton is also suffering from multiple facial fractures and broken ribs after being struck by a van while crossing Main Street at Pacific Avenue around 9:30 p.m. Monday.
The driver of the van, which witnesses said was traveling at least 40 mph at the time of the collision, was identified by Santa Monica police as Cathy Jones, 40, of Malibu. She was arrested and booked for felony hit-and-run. She was released on $50,000 bail, said SMPD Investigator Chris Dawson.
Charges are expected to be filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in the coming weeks.
Police said Jones was traveling northbound on Main Street when she attempted to pass a slower moving vehicle by using the bicycle/parking lane. Brittany Norton had just stepped into a crosswalk when she was struck.
A witness who chased Jones in his car to get her license plate number for police told the Daily Press on Thursday that he saw Brittany Norton spinning in the air after she was struck.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Jermaine R., a former firefighter from Bakersfield who did not want his last name published. “I didn’t know what to think. I just went into response mode.”
Jermaine, who was in Santa Monica with his wife to purchase a motorcycle, drove up to Brittany Norton, jumped out of his Acura and began administering aid. He made sure there was a pulse and that she was breathing. Meanwhile his wife ran into a nearby market for help.
“I looked back at the van and [the driver] stopped for a few seconds and then they just took off,” Jermaine said. “I was like, ‘No way this [person] is taking off.”
Jermaine got into his car, flipped on his high beams and gave chase, honking his horn to warn people to get out of the way. He said he quickly caught up with the van, which was traveling at a high rate of speed down side streets. He got close enough to the van to get the license plate number and then headed back to Main Street where police were on the scene.
He was taken to a nearby Albertsons, where officers had the driver in custody. Jermaine identified the van and returned to the scene of the accident to find Brittany Norton gone, leaving him wondering if his patient was going to survive.
“I couldn’t sleep at all that night,” he said. “I kept watching TV to see if there would be anything on the accident, but there wasn’t. I called hospitals, but I got the run-around.
“I knew that I couldn’t just drive by,” he said about the collision. “I had to stop. It’s in my blood. If you are out of gas 20 feet from a gas station, I’ll stop and help you out.”
He never did buy that motorcycle.
“I really hope she pulls through,” he said of Brittany Norton.
Maureen Norton said her niece has lived in Santa Monica for the last 10 years and was on her way back home from a walk on the beach when she was hit. Brittany Norton, a native of Denver, does freelance construction work and also blows glass on the side.
“She is really talented with her hands and with building things,” Maureen Norton said. “She’s the sweetest, nicest person. She would give you the shirt off her back. … We’re just hoping for the best.”
Brittany Norton’s mother and stepfather flew out from Hawaii to join the rest of her family at her bedside. They are grateful for Jermaine and other witnesses that stopped to help.
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Maureen Norton said. “We wish we could do more to thank them because it’s just amazing what they did for her.”
Family members have set up a Web site for updates on Brittany Norton’s condition and have a way for people to donate money to help pay medical bills and other costs. Those interested in donating can go to www.upperbranch.com/brittany.