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Monday, June 27, 2022

UF student in hospital after crash; frat brothers fundraise

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-8216edb7-f915-00fa-577b-cd5f9c169a06"><span>Joe Steven Vincent Wagner, 23, is still in critical condition at UF Health Shands Hospital. He suffered from brain swelling, because he was hit by another car on Southwest Archer Road on Monday morning.</span></span></p>

Joe Steven Vincent Wagner, 23, is still in critical condition at UF Health Shands Hospital. He suffered from brain swelling, because he was hit by another car on Southwest Archer Road on Monday morning.

Outside Joe Steven Vincent Wagner’s hospital room, the waiting room is never empty.

Delta Chi fraternity brothers take turns in UF Health Shands Hospital: sitting in the waiting room chairs, updating a GoFundMe to raise money and praying. His sister, Joann Lea, waits for medical updates, hoping her brother will wake up.

They’ve waited in the hospital since Monday after Wagner, a UF engineering fifth-year student, was hit by a car while driving his orange Kawasaki motorcycle just before noon Monday near Shands. Wagner, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, remains unconscious with brain swelling.

“It was the most gruesome and heart-breaking sight,” Joann Lea Wagner said. “I had never seen him so broken.”

The GoFundMe page, intended to raise money for Wagner’s medical bills and the cost of his family’s travel to Gainesville, has received $16,876 in donations as of press time. Doctors say the 23-year-old 6-foot-5, 220-pound student is still in critical condition and has yet to regain consciousness since the crash.

As soon as Wagner’s Delta Chi brothers heard what happened, they rushed to the hospital.

Andrew O’Neill, one of the first brothers to arrive, said at one point up to 50 Delta Chi brothers were in the waiting room to show their support.

“We are still staying positive that he will make a full recovery from this,” O’Neill said.

After they realized they didn’t want to cause an inconvenience to the medical staff in Intensive Care, the Delta Chi brothers took shifts to stay in the waiting room and support Wagner’s sister. About 20 to 25 brothers are waiting at any given time, O’Neill said.

For Joann Lea Wagner, the question is just whether her brother will be able to run and swim the way he used to.

“We have nothing, but faith and hope that Joe will pull through,” she said.

While sitting in the waiting room, Kevin Hilton, 21, said he felt helpless. The UF accounting junior created the GoFundMe page and said it was the least he could do for someone he considers family.

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“Joe’s genuinely one of the nicest people you could meet,” Hilton said.

O’Neill said Wagner is one of the brothers younger members look up to.

“Joe is an extremely kindhearted person,” O’Neill said. “He can turn any room into a positive one. I know he wouldn’t want us suffering now.”

Contact Meryl Kornfield at mkornfield@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @MerylKornfield

This article has been updated to reflect that it is still unknown if Wagner will make a full recovery. 

Joe Steven Vincent Wagner, 23, is still in critical condition at UF Health Shands Hospital. He suffered from brain swelling, because he was hit by another car on Southwest Archer Road on Monday morning.

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