Laura Elena Soto Silva and Ryan Berg had lots to look forward to. She had just given birth to her sixth child in June. The couple were preparing to close on a house within the next few weeks and to get married in the coming months.
“It was all ready to go,” Berg said Wednesday.
But now he is praying that she can stay alive to enjoy it all.
Silva, a 33-year-old road construction worker from Fergus Falls, Minn., has been in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis since Monday when she was hit by a teenage driver who police said was checking her phone.
Silva was holding a sign near the intersection of 7th Street and 237th Avenue NE. in East Bethel. Traffic had come to a stop when 19-year-old Jordan Paulus came upon the scene about 1:10 p.m.
Paulus told authorities she was looking at her phone as she drove west on 237th Avenue. At the last second, she saw the stopped traffic and swerved to the right to avoid hitting the car in front of her. She steered onto the shoulder, where she struck Silva.
“The foreman told me she had no chance to move. She just got tossed,” Berg said. “She had a reflective vest and pants on. There was no reason not to see the stopped traffic.”
Berg and Silva met four years ago while working at North Valley Construction in northern Minnesota. Silva had three kids at the time and was pregnant with a fourth. She and Berg had one of their own and a second in June. The children range in age from a few weeks old to 15.
The couple were just days away from closing on a house in the metro area. And Silva was just days away from completing the repaving job in the north-metro community.
Berg said officers told him the driver was on Snapchat.
“If it had been an accident, I could have some sympathy for the driver,” Berg said from Silva’s hospital room. “But she didn’t keep her eyes on the road and had to be on Snapchat. We need to pass stronger laws ... to be hands-free, at least in construction zones.”
Friends, family members and co-workers have rallied around the couple. They’ve planned benefits, and Berg started a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover medical bills.
Berg said that on Monday, doctors told him they expected Silva to recover from her injuries. When doctors woke her up, she was responsive, wiggled her toes and gave a soft thumbs-up before she was sedated again.
But on Wednesday, she suffered a setback when doctors said that an artery leading to her heart may have ruptured. Tubes were inserted to reduce swelling in her brain.
Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said the case remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Patrol reconstruction team.
When the investigation is completed, Sommer said, the case will be reviewed by the Anoka County attorney’s office, which will decide if charges against Paulus are warranted.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768