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Woman 'body-slammed' due to road rage begins to open eyes, respond to family

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Posted at 9:42 PM, Feb 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 23:43:52-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A woman body-slammed during a road rage incident is starting to show positive signs, her sister announced.

On Thursday, February 13th, police were called to a fight happening in the Starbucks parking lot off of Alpine Avenue in Walker. Police say some sort of crash may have happened prior to the fight.

When police arrived, officers found Samantha Sutherlin was found unconscious.

She was hospitalized with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) requiring emergency surgery. The hospital put her in a medically-induced coma to calm her body and brain in the hopes of starting the healing process.

Police arrested Eric Alvarez in connection with the crime. Alvarez was caught with the help of witness pictures and his vehicle registration.

Nicole Holtrop shared pictures of her sister in the hospital with FOX 17.

When we first spoke to Sutherlin's family, they were distraught, unsure what the future might hold for the 23-year-old and her children. Today they have a glimmer of hope: Samantha is responding to family and loved ones.

"I have personally witnessed her give a thumbs up on command and lifting two fingers," Sutherlin 's sister Nicole Holtrop posted online. As of this weekend, Samantha has been opening her eyes.

Her doctors are trying to bring her out of the coma but need to do so with extreme caution. Her sedation levels have been carefully adjusted based on her reaction.

"Her blood pressure rises, her breathing becomes frantic… it’s a really scary thing to see," Holtrop posted, adding doctors know Sutherlin suffered a stroke at some point during her ordeal.

Sutherlin 's family describes being in limbo when wondering about about her future, but they are grateful for the help given by the community in helping find Alvarez and donating to the GoFundMe page set up for her medical expenses.

Doctors do not truly know Sutherlin 's prognosis. For now they are learning all they can about her condition and trying to prepare for whatever the future might hold, focusing on the recent positive signs.

"My mom said she squeezed her hand really hard one time," Holtrop wrote. "The doctors said that her responses to commands are very encouraging."