In the 44 days Earl Switzer Jr. spent at St. Joseph Medical Center, his family went from hope to heartbreak.
Now, they want answers.
Switzer, 45, died Saturday from injuries he received Feb. 2 on a dark road in Parkland.
“We would like whoever knows (what happened) to come forward,” sister Beckie Ferguson, 49, said Wednesday.
Somebody hit Switzer with their vehicle and left him for dead.
“I want to know why they left the scene,” said Switzer’s brother Darrin, 42. “Why can’t you pick up the phone and say, ‘Somebody is hurt here.’ ”
Earl Switzer was injured after he allegedly broke a fence at a bar and restaurant in the 10700 block of Park Avenue South and tried to fight with customers.
By the time Pierce County sheriff’s deputies arrived he’d left. While deputies were still at the bar, a passer-by found Switzer two blocks down the road. He’d suffered what eventually would be a fatal head injury.
Switzer was a 2015 graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma. He worked in information technology for Amazon in Kent, his family said. It was a new path after working for years as a cook and caterer.
Switzer grew up in Lakewood. His mother, Yong Switzer, lives in Tacoma.
“She’s on (an emotional) roller coaster right now,” Darrin Switzer said of his mother.
Yong Switzer spent long hours at her son’s bedside while he was at St. Joe’s.
“Not only were they taking care of Earl, but they took care of mom, too,” Darrin said of the hospital’s medical staff.
Earl Switzer lived in a Tacoma apartment and kept to himself, his family said. He wasn’t one to go to bars.
That’s why some of the circumstances surrounding the minutes before the incident on Feb. 2 are baffling to the family.
“I was surprised to hear he was in a bar that night,” Darrin Switzer said. “He was a very simple person. It wasn’t really his scene.”
Deputies found tire tracks on the roadway near where Earl Switzer was hit. They also found a black metal passenger-side mirror believed to be from an older-model truck.
The Sheriff’s Department is calling the death a hit-and-run vehicular homicide, spokesman Ed Troyer said.
The family is coping with the loss of a brother, son and uncle.
Darrin Switzer said his brother frequently joined family gatherings where he doted on Darrin’s 5-year-old daughter.
“She was his No. 1 fan,” Darrin said. “When Uncle Earl was around, that was it. I was chopped liver.”
The girl knew her uncle was in the hospital but doesn’t yet know he died, Darrin said Wednesday.
“I’m still trying to figure out a way to tell her,” he said.
Earl Switzer played football and wrestled in his school days at Clover Park High School. He kept himself fit up until the incident, his brother said.
Until last week he had been making a slow recovery in the hospital. But the long-term prognosis was never good, Ferguson said.
“(Doctors) said he will never be Earl like we knew him,” she said. “He would need round-the-clock nursing care.”
Last week he suffered a brain hemorrhage and his sister came from her Chicago home to be with him one last time.
The medical examiner said Tuesday that Switzer died of a closed-head injury.
The Sheriff’s Department said it’s made little progress in the case and is asking the public for help.
“What do we want?” Ferguson asked. “We want answers.”
A $1,000 reward is being offered through Crime Stoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County for information.
“Do the right thing and come forward,” Ferguson said.