09/05/13 10:00am
09/05/2013 10:00 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Johnson at a family friend's wedding in 2011. Police have not made any arrests in the June 6 hit-and-run crash that injured Ms. Johnson in Florida.

COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Johnson at a family friend’s wedding in 2011. Police have not made any arrests in the June 6 hit-and-run crash that injured Ms. Johnson in Florida.

Ashley Johnson, the former Riverhead High School student who was critically injured during a hit-and-run accident in Florida in June, is back in New York after months of effort to bring her home for better rehabilitation.

Ms. Johnson, 23, was struck by a red pickup truck about 11:45 p.m. on June 6 while crossing a major highway in Tampa.

Police have yet to make an arrest in the case.

Ms. Johnson was flown by private jet Aug. 16 to New York University Langone Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation in Manhattan, where she is undergoing aggressive short-term rehabilitation and speech therapy, said her mother, Kimberley Mullen.

Ms. Johnson suffered a severe head injury in the crash and fractured her left arm in three places.

“She can move her right arm and leg up and down,” Ms. Mullen said. “The left side she is having a hard time with. They are trying to rehab her to get back to regular life.”

Dissatisfied with the care Ms. Johnson was receiving in Florida, the family had been trying move Ms. Johnson back to New York since soon after the crash.

“We’ve seen she is improving every day,” Ms. Mullen said. “You show her pictures and she knows her family. She just needed the experienced staff at NYU.”

Ms. Johnson has been using sign language to speak with her sister Ebony, said Shelby Block, Ms. Johnson’s stepmother. The two learned signs when they were about 12 years old, Ms. Block said.

Ms. Mullen, who was also living in Florida at the time of the crash, said she’s since resigned from her job as business office manager at Cross Gardens Care Center in Miami to help take care of her daughter full-time.

“You never think it’s going to be your family,” Ms. Mullen said. “It’s tough, but when you’re up against it, you really all come together.”

The family said they hope to eventually bring Ms. Johnson home to Riverhead after her stay at the NYU facility, which is a short-term care facility.

Relatives are confident Ms. Johnson will soon be able to live with family in Riverhead, with the help of at-home care.

“I don’t want her going from facility to facility,” Ms. Mullen said.

cmiller@timesreview.com