The family of St. Paul hit-and-run victim Wade Souster is having trouble setting up a medical benefit fund during the partial federal government shutdown as they continue to make emotional pleas for the driver to come forward.
It was hard for Souster's mother and cousin to hold back tears during a press conference at Regions Hospital on Monday afternoon to give an update on his condition and make an appeal to find whoever hit him and left him laying unconscious in the street for more than an hour.
Laying in his hospital bed, Souster is nearly unrecognizable. He remains in a coma from a serious brain injury and has broken bones in his face and legs. Currently, he's on a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe.
Souster often takes late-night walks and was just a couple blocks from home when someone in a dark car hit him early Thursday morning while he crossed an intersection just south of Lake Phalen. He was found 10 to 15 feet from the crosswalk just before 4 a.m., but investigators could not find enough evidence to determine what type of vehicle to hunt for.
With the hospital tab growing, family members and Souster's coworkers at the Downtowner Car Wash have been collecting donations to help cover his medical costs since he doesn't have much insurance; however, his family ran into a few roadblocks trying to set up a benefit fund for him due to the partial federal government shutdown.
"As many phone calls as I've made, even the banks don't know what to do," Angie Hammerlindl admitted. "We're in a really weird situation. The government is shut down. I need a little number to get him the help he needs."
The number the family needs is called an employer identification number, which the IRS uses as a Social Security number of sorts for businesses and non-profits. When working with a bank to create a benefit fund, an EIN is needed to establish the charity for individual tax purposes.
Yet, the furloughs have made getting an EIN extremely difficult. Madeline Bowie, a tax attorney, told FOX 9 News she got one for a client over the Internet last Thursday; however, the shutdown means Souster's family wont' have much luck getting through to anyone at the IRS by phone.
A New York family ran into the same problem last week when trying to establish a benefit fund to cover funeral expenses for their 2-year-old child.
"It seems like it's causing an extra burden," Bowie said. "They are trying to do something quickly; someone's in the hospital. It's unfair."
Yet for Souster's loved ones, the thing that is even more unfair is the fact that the driver who hit him has not done the right thing.
"Someone out there knows something. Someone saw something. We need help," Hammerlindl pled. "We need to know who did this. When Wade wakes up, he should have an answer."
The Downtowner Car Wash is also offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case, and they are also collecting donations while the family works to set up the benefit fund.
Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call St. Paul police at 651-266-5722 with the tip.