UDPATE: Man airlifted after fight on Center Street late Saturday

Nicole Ares

A man was hospitalized with serious injuries after a fight on Center Street near campus involving several people, according to the Bowling Green Police Department.

An incident report released by police said Cory Johnson, 20, was flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with a skull fracture and brain bleeding Saturday night after being involved in a fight on 1347 Center St. near the Hyatt Place and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.

Johnson is still in a medically induced coma, Austin Wiard, a close friend and co-worker of Johnson, said Wednesday morning.

“It was more of a shock to everybody really,” Wiard said. “First off, I would like to see justice be served to the people who did this to him. But also, we’re at the point where raising the money [for medical expenses] is very important.”

On the day of the incident, Wiard, Johnson and others traveled from Frankfort to Bowling Green for a weekend visit with friends. Wiard was not with Johnson when the incident occurred, but he immediately went to The Medical Center in Bowling Green when he found out Johnson was taken there.

“We had no clue what his condition was,” Wiard said. “Originally, we got to [The Medical Center] in Bowling Green and the nurse came out and said his condition was too bad to fly to [The University of Kentucky Medical Center.]”

However, later that night the nurse told Wiard she had spoken with Johnson’s mother. The decision was made to airlift Johnson to the University of Kentucky Medical Center where he is still being treated.

When the police arrived to Center Street Saturday at 1:53 a.m., witnesses Bowling Green junior Emily Pride, Franklin senior Michael Gonzales and Russellville senior Braxton Powell were caring for the victim, according to the report.

When the Bowling Green Fire Department and the Emergency Medical Services arrived on the scene, they both believed Johnson was highly intoxicated, according to the report.

Pride told police the fight began in the front yard of the SAE house and Johnson appeared to be instigating the fight, yelling and screaming. She said Johnson and two other people were fighting in the street when he was knocked to the ground, but she didn’t know who the other people were. Pride believed they belonged to the Sigma Nu fraternity, according to the report.

The Herald reached out to Pride, but she declined to comment on the incident, citing the ongoing police investigation.

After allegations of fraternity involvement were stated, Charley Pride, director of student activities and father of Emily Pride, said the department of student activities is relying on information from the BGPD’s ongoing investigation. After the investigation is more conclusive, it will determine how to deal with individuals and organizations who were involved.

“There is not a hard and fast rule of what is an organizational incident or how a case will be decided,” Charley Pride said.

Gonzales told police they assisted moving Johnson to the sidewalk after he was knocked down, but he was accidentally dropped on his head. Gonzales stated he observed the fight, but could not identify who Johnson was in the fight with.

In the report, the reporting officer references a video claimed to be held by the WKU Police Department showing the fight taking place in the roadway of Center Street. The video reportedly depicts Johnson being tackled by a man, and he is then repeatedly punched in the head by two other men who ran into the fight after he was on the ground.

The video also supposedly shows another person, later identified as Peter Gall, being hit and knocked down by three people. The person identified by the officer as the man who tackled Johnson is reported to have kicked Gall before he and the rest of the men involved walked away toward campus.

Gall told Officer Boyar, after he had been taken to the hospital, that he didn’t know the people who had assaulted him or Johnson. However, Gall stated he had insulted the two subjects and then he and Johnson became involved in a fight with the two subjects, according to the report.

The Herald reached out to Gonzales, Powell and Gall, but they did not respond before time of publication.

In light of the Johnson’s medical condition, a GoFundMe campaign has been started by Wiard to help pay for Johnson’s medical expenses. The goal of the campaign is to reach $50,000, and it has raised more than $8,700 in the sites first day.

Johnson graduated in 2014 from Western Hills High School in Frankfort. He is also currently employed by Noel Clayton HVAC working toward a career in the heating and cooling industry.

Jerimie Pealver, supervisor of insulation at Noel Clayton HVAC, said he and other co-workers are trying to do everything they can to help the family.

Pealver said while Johnson does have medical insurance, he does not believe it will nearly cover the amount of medical expenses his family will be facing. This includes the cost of airlifting Johnson to The University of Kentucky Medical Center, Pealver believes.

“Corey’s mother is so in shock she’s not thinking,” Pealver said. “There’s going to be a lot of medical expenses from here on out. Our main focus is getting the GoFundMe page out to as many people as possible.”

Reporter Nicole Ares can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]