By David Fleet
Midnight on Aug. 12 marked the first official day high school football teams could practice in full gear.
However, as the Goodrich football team prepared for the traditional start of the season, they were missing one of their own.
Senior lineman Joey Richvalsky was absent following a car crash just days earlier.
At about 3:30 a.m., Aug. 6, Davison Township Police Department responded to the 9000 block of Bristol Road for a crash of an SUV into an unoccupied excavator inside a closed section of roadway on Bristol Road just west of M-15. The road was closed due to construction on a bridge over I-69.
Davison Township Police reported that Joey Richvalsky, 18, was heading east on Bristol Road near the intersection of M-15 when he drove past a barricade and struck the excavator.
Davison City Police Department, Richfield Township Police Department, Davison Area Fire Department, Genesee County Sheriff Paramedics and Survival Flight helicopter from Livingston County all responded. Richvalsky was airlifted to the Hurley Medical Center in critical condition where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.
Pam Patterson, a spokesperson for the family, said Joe is a very strong kid.
“He still has a long road ahead of him but he improves everyday,” she said. “After some very serious injuries to his head, lungs and legs he is advancing way beyond expectations. On Tuesday he gave his mom a thumbs up, recognized her and responded to verbal commands. It’s a very good sign.”
Patterson said Joey has battled pneumonia and has undergone several surgeries since the crash.
About 100 students attended a vigil to pray for Richvalsky at the Roy Stacey Sports Complex in Goodrich, just prior to the midnight start of football practice on Aug. 12.
Head coach Tom Alward has been in contact with the Richvalsky family.
“This team is one of the hardest working teams I have coached and we are all excited to get this season kicked off,” he said. “We all miss Joey and keep his spirit close to us as we prepare for this season’s battles.”
A Go Fund Me account has been established to help the family. https://www.gofundme.com/joeyrichvalsky