Ypsilanti hockey player Ian Jenkins, 15, dies today after fall from pickup truck
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about the accident
A promising young hockey player from Ypsilanti died today as a result of a head injury suffered last week, the University of Michigan Health System confirmed.
Ian Jenkins fell from the bed of a pick-up truck around 4 p.m. Thursday in Milan, according the Milan Police Department.
Jenkins had been sitting on top of the truck bed cover in the back of a friend’s late-1990s red Ford Ranger with his feet on the bumper just before the accident, Milan Police Chief Jeff Lewis said Monday.
A 16-year-old friend of Jenkins' had driven the truck in alleyways in Milan’s Uptown Village behind four or five houses before turning right onto Eisenhower Lane.
The truck traveled about 15 yards before Jenkins either jumped or fell off the truck.
“We’ll never know for sure,” Lewis said.
“When he went to land on the asphalt, he either struck his head on the back of the truck or asphalt.”
The driver didn’t see what happened, and several witnesses were a distance away from the truck at the time of the accident, Lewis said.
His friend saw Jenkins lying on the road and called 911, Lewis said.
Jenkins was unconscious when emergency medical responders arrived, Lewis said.
The vehicle had been moving at or under 10 miles per hour, Lewis said. Speed did not appear to be a factor.
The accident is still under investigation.
Jenkins was a sophomore at Milan High School, Superintendent Bryan Girbach said this morning. And he was most recently a goalie for the Belle Tire Midget Minor AAA U-16 team, an elite youth level team which competes against some of the best clubs in the state and nation.
“We want to let everyone know that as he always did, Ian battled right up to the final buzzer, but he lost at 7:54 this morning,” Ian’s father, Joel Jenkins, said in a statement this morning. “He will be missed. We thank everyone for everything they have done over the past few days.”
Jenkins, 15, underwent six to seven hours of brain surgery at the University of Michigan Hospital, his long-time coach, Mike Hamilton, said Monday.
Hundreds of former teammates and friends came to the hospital to visit Jenkins, Hamilton said, after it became clear he would not recover.
"Everyone had tears, they were telling stories, laughing and celebrating his life. They (Ian's family) think that’s one of the reasons Ian was sticking around. So everyone could come see him and deal with it in their own way."
Jenkins had been picked in a recent draft by the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, a development league for professional and major college prospects. He was one of the top goaltending prospects in the draft.
The accident occurred Thursday in a quiet subdivision in the 1300 block of Eisenhower Lane. Jenkins was transported to the University of Michigan Hospital, where he remained in critical condition until this morning.
"It was his dream “to make it to the highest levels of hockey,” his father, Joel Jenkins, said in the statement. “No matter what happens, he had the happiest two weeks of his life leading up to that day, and all of us on Ian’s family ‘team’ were thrilled to be part of that.
"The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and has showed us how much Ian means to everyone — not just because he’s great at stopping hockey pucks, but because he is an extraordinary young man," Joel Jenkins said in the statement.
The accident is still under investigation, police said.
Milan schools have grief counselors available to assist students today, Girbach said. "My understanding from the administration is that he was a wonderful student and has been an active part of Milan High School and we mourn the loss of any student and just want to be there for the famiy, the community and the student body during this difficult time," Girbach said.
Jenkins is the fourth Milan Area Schools student to have died this year. "The death of a student is always a tragedy for a school district. We handle each one individually," Girbach said.
This story will be updated.