'He's going to fight through this one': Friends, community rally around Slinger senior in coma

NOW: ’He’s going to fight through this one’: Friends, community rally around Slinger senior in coma

SLINGER, Wis. (CBS 58) -- 18-year-old Jack Gerlach should be preparing to fight it out on the wrestling mat for his senior season as a member of the Slinger High School wrestling team. Instead, the team's captain is fighting for his life inside the ICU at Froedtert Hospital.

"We knew that he was flown Flight for Life to Froedtert," said Jeff Rollins, co-head wrestling coach at Slinger High School. "That's all we knew."

Gerlach was on his way to a work study program on the morning of Nov. 1 when he flipped his truck on I-41 near Holy Hill Road. The highway was shut down for hours and Germantown police said 'cold temperatures resulting in slick road conditions' appeared to be a factor in the crash.

Gerlach was flown by Flight for Life to Froedtert Hospital where he remains in a medically induced coma.

"There's so many unknowns," Rollins said. "The brain injury is still very serious, and he has other injuries that need to be repaired surgically that are on hold."

Inside Slinger High School, a group of close friends continue to hold out hope for Gerlach.

"We've really been by each other's sides the entire time," said Calvin Coffeen.

"I just thought it was an everyday accident," said Drew Schellinger, recalling the day of the crash. "Only to find out later that it was our close friend."

With a lot of unknowns surrounding Gerlach's condition, the boys have remained strong and united, going out for group dinners, playing video games and even shaving their hair to honor their friend.

"He got a buzz cut in summer and it was kind of just his thing since then," explained Blake Johnson. "When (the crash) happened, it was just an idea we all get buzz cuts because he had one."

As the group continues to process the crash and show support to their friend, one they say is as selfless as an 18-year-old can be, they're confident he will continue to fight with the same spirit he's shown on the wrestling mat all these years.

"Always working his hardest; trying to be the best he can," Colton Ormiston said. "I just feel like that shows a lot of character on how he is and how determined he is and how hard he can fight."

Gerlach's wrestling coach shares that same confidence.

"Jack's a fighter. He's going to continue to fight for his friends and his family and the community," Rollins said. "He's always been a fighter. He's never been a quitter. I'm confident he's going to fight through this one."

Rollins shared that Gerlach's mom, dad and sister are grateful for the support, thoughts and prayers they have and continue to receive.

Several fundraisers have been set up to assist the Gerlach family with Jack's medical expenses. They can be found below:

 Click here for the GoFundMe information.

Click here for information on a fundraising event. 

Share this article: