MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — An Albertville teen is still in the hospital, and his condition is improving after he was struck by a car Friday.
Daniel Leija, a 17-year-old Albertville High School senior and cross-country champion, suffered serious injuries on Friday night while running on a walking trail. Officials say he was struck by a car on Highway 69 at Sunset Drive in Guntersville.
Albertville City School System officials say Leija underwent three surgeries.
“We’re running the rest of the season for Daniel. We’re going to finish the season strong. We do have a lot of work to make up, but I know they can do it. They’re great kids and they’re willing to put in the work,” Albertville High School Cross Country Head Coach Samantha Searels said.
The coach tells News 19 that she rushed to the hospital Friday night when she heard the news about Leija. She says Leija is still in the hospital, but he’s in good spirits and is recovering.
Searels says he’s got a long road to recovery, but she hopes Leija will be back in an Albertville jersey in the middle of track season.
“Daniel is awesome. He’s an absolute workhorse. He is everybody’s cheerleader – I think he knows everybody’s stats on anything whether they run, jump, or throw. He’s the best runner to come through this high school,” added Searels.
Guntersville city leaders say that the area where Leija was hit has long been viewed as a problem. The city plans to use grant money from the state for improvements.
“We’ve recently received an ATRIP grant through the state to replace the signal poles and everything in that location. One of the stipulations is that we’re going to get better pedestrian control there because it’s definitely needed,” Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar says.
Mayor Dollar, who tells News 19 she’s an avid runner herself and has seen the dangers this area poses first-hand, is hoping these improvements will be finished in a year.
“It’s a very busy intersection with the boat ramp, the parks, and just the state highways. We never want anyone to get hurt. My thoughts and prayers are with that young man and his family because that is just awful,” Dollar stated.
Albertville’s Student Government Association is set to hold ‘Prayer at the Flagpole’ for Leija on Tuesday, September 26th at 7:15 a.m.