The 17-year-old fighting for his life after being hit by a car Sunday remains in critical condition, but he's showing signs of improvement, his father said. To reduce the swelling in his brain, John Causland is heavily sedated at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, his father, Manny, said, but there is reason to be optimistic.

The 17-year-old fighting for his life after being hit by a car Sunday remains in critical condition, but he's showing signs of improvement, his father said.


To reduce the swelling in his brain, John Causland is heavily sedated at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, his father, Manny, said, but there is reason to be optimistic.


"There is no backward (progression), but tiny movements forward. Things are only moving forward," he said.


"I'm happy with where he's at right now. I'm not happy in the morning, it's early, and I still get shocked by it. Then we keep seeing better signs during the day, but then we have to say goodnight," Manny Causland said.


That's when that fear creeps in that someone from the hospital will call with bad news, he said.


Police said Bonnie Lee Hicks, 43, of Billerica, hit Causland with her Nissan Xterra as the Waltham High senior was crossing the street at the intersection of Smith Street and Trapelo Road. Causland was on his way to work at Waltham Crossings, an assisted living facility.


Hicks, who was not injured, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Monday in Waltham District Court to driving under the influence of alcohol, driving negligently and other charges. She was released on personal recognizance and will be back in court for a pretrial hearing Jan. 12.


Manny Causland said he does not want people to direct anger toward the driver, but rather, focus on the positive to help heal is son.


"Let the legal system handle anything else. Being positive is the best medicine," he said.


He wants John's many friends and "fans" who have been praying for his recovery and posting supportive comments on Facebook - which he called "amazing" - to stay positive.


John's cousin, Amanda Causland, though angry with the driver and Waltham District Court Judge Gregory Flynn's decision to release her on personal recognizance, echoed the same thoughts.


"This is not a time to be thinking or saying things about the other person. This time is for John and only John. We need to stay hopeful and supportive for my family. Being positive is the only true way for the good to come. And in these last few days we are seeing the answers to our prayers," she said.


Manny Causland cautioned people not to expect John to be completely better overnight.


"The doctor said, if he responds to verbal commands this week, it would be a miracle," he said.


Doctors pinched a toe on each foot, and pinched his hands, and his body responded as it should, "not just a reflex," Manny Causland said.


"The first thing the neurosurgeon said is, the brain swelling is down, and the brain is slowly shifting back to where it should be," he said, noting his son was struck on his left side.


"The area at the base of the brain needs a lot of space, and that space has grown again," another positive development, Manny Causland said.


There does not appear to be any danger of paralysis, and his breathing is good, his father said.


John Causland had a small seizure Wednesday, but it did not do any damage, his father said.


Manny Causland said he and his wife, Mary, were also optimistic when they noticed their son's eyes seem to follow them when they were in the room with him.


The medical staff also noted that John responded well to visiting friends, Manny Causland said.


One friend brought an iPod with Taylor Swift songs to play in John's room - a surprise to his father.


"John likes Metallica, and heavy metal and rap. Taylor Swift?" he said. His friend was careful to start the play list with John's no-longer secret favorite music from Taylor Swift, and ease into the heavier music, Manny Causland said.


Daily News Tribune writer Joyce Kelly can be reached at 781-398-8005 or jkelly@cnc.com.