BEACHWOOD – Councilman Gerald LaCrosse, owner of der Wunder Wiener food truck, is out of intensive care but has a long way to go, family said.
“It’s still a scary time. A lot can happen,” said his niece, Charissa Fromm. She and his son, Jerry, started a GoFundMe account to help with the family’s financial needs (gofundme.com/gerald-lacrosse039s-huge-losshelp).
There were a few times he was almost taken off the ventilator, but something prevented it. Finally, in a “Father’s Day miracle,” he was able to come off of it six days after the crash.
He will be spending his 75th birthday on June 22 in the hospital.
He’s finally able to talk, although he’s not his usual talkative self, she said. Being able to talk is good for his emotional well-being, in that he can finally communicate with his loved ones. (His wife and daughter are almost always at the hospital.) But it also helps in communicating with the medical staff. He’s able to tell them what he’s feeling, so they have more to rely on than just tests.
The family loves hearing about the support of the community. Some are people they’ve known for a long time. Some are complete strangers, like the person who wrote on the GoFundMe that they don’t know Gerry or Beverly, but “I can see the kindness in their eyes.”
The remains of the food truck were carted away. Right now, there is just the lone umbrella standing there as a reminder. The family hopes that it can stay there until at least the fundraiser, because it’s symbolic at this point.
How To Help
Fromm said the family is amazed and immensely grateful at the outpouring of support that has come from the community. Not just financial support, but the kindness that people have shown them has really touched their hearts.
If you want to help contribute to the family’s medical bills, there are two ways to do so.
Two local PBAs, Berkeley Local 237 and Beachwood-Pine Beach Local 253, will be setting up a trailer on the Wunder Wiener’s location and selling hot dogs, chips, and drinks. The trailer will be there on July 5, 6, and 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds from those sales will go to the family. They will also be taking donations there.
“While we will never be able to duplicate his skills, we will certainly try our best to get close,” the flyer read.
The family’s GoFundMe can be found at gofundme.com/gerald-lacrosse039s-huge-losshelp. As of press time, it had raised approximately $10,000.
After the GoFundMe was started, Fromm said she saw a lot of support coming in from all over. It’s been shared online more than 1,000 times. People she doesn’t know are leaving comments about visiting the eatery and wanting to give back. Everyone seems to have a memory about the food truck and about LaCrosse. It reminds her of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
“The whole town is coming together and supporting this man who has done so much for his community,” she said. “Gerry is like George Bailey.”
The driver of the SUV, Mark Poplawski, 52, of Forked River, suffered minor head and neck injuries. Meanwhile, the destroyed building was removed from the site.
Anyone with information pertaining to the crash is asked to reach out to Detective Michael Riccardelli at 732-341-1132 ext. 2136 or Patrolman Michael Bulwinski at 732-341-1132 ext. 2125. Callers don’t need to give their name.