An Elgin man who was struck last week by a piece of vinyl fencing that fell off a truck and through his windshield has died.
Jim Putman, 72, suffered severe brain trauma and was in critical condition at a Cleveland hospital after the Sept. 4 accident on Interstate 90 in Ohio. After fighting for his life for six days, the beloved great-grandfather was taken off life support and died Sunday, said his granddaughter, Sarah Chiodo of Crystal Lake.
"I think we're still in shock. It just happened so fast, and it's hard to believe," she said. "It's just hard to accept the fact that he's not here anymore."
Putman was driving his Jeep with his sister-in-law in the passenger seat and his granddaughter and Chiodo's sister, Jamie Putman, in the back seat at the time of the accident. They were heading to Boston, where Jamie was moving.
The fencing fell off the truck traveling in front of them, shattered the Jeep's windshield and hit Putman in the head, knocking him unconscious, Chiodo said. Her sister and great-aunt, who were not severely injured, were able to take her grandfather's foot off the accelerator and bring the Jeep to a stop on the side of the road.
"We really want to make sure people are aware of tying their things down," Chiodo said. "It cost somebody their life."
With no solid leads a week after the accident, Avon, Ohio, police are asking for the public's assistance in their investigation, spokesman Jim Drozdowski said. A few people have called in saying they were in the area at the time, he said, and detectives are working with someone who might have caught the accident on video.
"They're still looking, and they're hoping this video they're looking at may reveal something," Drozdowski said. "But at this point, it hasn't."
The truck driver is described as a white man in his 50s or 60s at the wheel of a white or off-white GMC or Chevrolet truck. Police said he briefly stopped on I-90 about a mile after the accident to check his cargo and drove away.
Anyone with information is asked to call Avon police at (440) 934-1234.
Putman, who lived in Elgin more than 20 years, is remembered as a devoted family man who never missed a family party or sporting event, Chiodo said. After the accident, she said, family members took turns traveling to Ohio to stay with him.
Putman, a widower, is survived by two sons, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
"He always wanted to help us and always wanted to be there for us," Chiodo said. "He lived for that. He lived for his kids and grandkids and great-grandkids."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
• Daily Herald staff writer Elena Ferrarin contributed to this report.