MAURICE RIVER TOWNSHIP — Rescue workers tried to revive a Lower Township man after he crashed his car into a utility pole Thursday, but he died from his injuries after an hour, State Police said.
Michael Hankins, 20, was driving south on Route 47 about 9:50 p.m. when he “lost directional control of the vehicle,” traveled off the shoulder of the road and struck several objects, including an Atlantic City Electric utility pole, State Police said.
Hankins and Aimee Govoni, 19, both of the Villas section of Lower Township, were trapped in their vehicle near milepost 29, State Police said. The roadway was shut down in both directions.
State Police pulled Hankins and Govoni from the car.
“They had to cut him out of the car, and when they got him out they had to do CPR for, like, an hour. They did get him back, but he had lost so much oxygen to his brain, and they were going to send him somewhere else and then he crashed again, and they couldn’t … they just couldn’t do anything,” Mitch Hankins said about his son. “They had him on a breathing machine, to breathe for him, but I guess it just didn’t hold.”
Michael Hankins was pronounced dead nearly two hours after the crash, at 11: 47 p.m.
Mitch Hankins sat on his front porch Friday morning recalling the events of the previous night.
He’d received a phone call about midnight from Inspira Medical Center in Vineland and was told his son had been involved in an accident and that he needed to come to the hospital, he said.
Michael’s mother, Rebecca, also was called. She said she didn’t learn the details of the accident until after she left the hospital and called the trooper who was at the scene.
Mitch Hankins said his son was on his way home with his girlfriend, Govoni, after ordering dinner at Taco Bell, and had just visited the Walmart in Vineland.
“He was a good kid,” Mitch Hankins said.
“They put us in a family room, and the doctor came in and told us (Michael) was in a bad accident, and that he was hurt too badly and they couldn’t bring him back,” Mitch Hankins said through tears. “I just thought he was hurt or something. I never thought in a million years that I would get there and they would tell me that he passed. From the little information that I got, basically they said he probably died on impact.”
Michael Hankins graduated from Lower Cape May Regional High School in 2011 and went on to take automotive mechanics for a year at Cape May County Technical School. He then got a job at Walmart in the Rio Grande section of Middle Township, where he worked for the Tire and Lube Express department for the past year.
As a kid, Michael learned from his dad about tinkering with cars.
In fact, Thursday afternoon — the last time Mitch Hankins spoke to his son — Michael was working on his mother’s car. He was changing the tires and fixing the brakes, Rebecca Hankins said.
“It was great because it kept him out of trouble. He was never in trouble,” Mitch Hankins said.
Rebecca Hankins said she had spent most of Thursday with her son, and he left about 7:30 p.m.
“The last thing I said to him was ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, Michael, I love you,’” she said, crying through her words.
“He was so full of life. He was one of those kids who didn’t mind staying at home with mom and dad. Once he got into his teenage years he used to ride the ramps (with his bicycle),” Mitch Hankins said.
Rebecca Hankins, who lives in the North Cape May section of Lower Township, said her son also loved camping, like her, and had been a Boy Scout until the eighth grade.
“He was a good friend. More of a friend than I even knew. I found out when I looked at his Facebook this morning,” she said in a phone interview Friday.
The Chevrolet Camaro Michael Hankins drove Thursday night was his dream car, Mitch Hankins said. “He just bought that car a few months ago. He was such a good kid, and he just had his birthday (on June 9), he just turned 20.”
“You just never realize, you know, that there just might not be a tomorrow,” Mitch Hankins said.
Govoni, who was Michael Hankins’ girlfriend of more than two years, was airlifted to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus in Atlantic City, and was in critical condition, State Police said.
“They were really into each other, and they did everything together,” Rebecca Hankins said. She said she spoke to Govoni’s family Friday morning, and the teen was awake but in a lot of pain. Govoni was unaware of Michael Hankins’ death as of Friday morning, Rebecca Hankins said.
A Facebook post about two hours before the accident shows a picture of Govoni, and her comment stated she was in Hankins’ car at Walmart.
Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the accident at this time, State Police said.
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