Crash leaves student in critical condition

By Nate Sandstrom

A University student was in critical condition Sunday night after a car struck him Saturday morning near First and Green streets.

Matt Pais, senior in communications, was hit by a Chevrolet Cavalier as he crossed First Street shortly after 11 a.m. According to a police report, Pais entered First Street from an alley about 250 feet north of the Green Street intersection. Southbound traffic was stopped at a red light. Pais entered the street between two vehicles stopped in the right lane and was struck by a car in the left lane, the report stated.

Witnesses said that Pais bounced against the car’s windshield and then landed in front of a stopped car in the right lane. Witnesses said he suffered lacerations to his head.

Cheri Zoellick, a Chicago resident on her way to visit her son for Mom’s Day weekend, was driving the car Pais landed in front of. She called 911 and put a towel around his head until an ambulance arrived, she said.

Zoellick said Pais was conscious and appeared to be able to move after the accident.

Michael Johnson, a Mahomet, Ill., resident who drove the car that struck Pais, said he did not seen Pais entering the street.

“I never saw him until I got out of my car and saw him on the ground,” Johnson said. “I feel terrible that it happened, but I feel it was in no way that it was my fault.”

No tickets were issued, according to the report.

Molly Trenkamp, a Champaign resident who witnessed the accident, said she saw Pais talking on his cell phone as he stepped in front of Johnson’s vehicle.

“I just think he was not paying any attention at all,” Trenkamp said.

Pais’ family and girlfriend were staying with him in the hospital on Sunday night. They said they knew few details about his condition but were encouraged about his recovery and said he would be graduating in May.

Pais is the lead film reviewer for Buzz, an alternative weekly publication owned by Illini Media.

“We look forward to more reviews in the future,” said his mother Faye Pais.