As Steve Utash struggles to take his first steps after nearly dying from injuries received in a vicious beating after he accidentally hit a 10-year-old boy who darted into traffic, the mother of boy he stopped to help is also struggling.
DeAngela Harris doesn’t have the words to tell her son, David, how an angry mob loitering near the accident scene responded to the accident, she told WXYZ-TV.
Her son doesn’t know anything about the dozen or so young men who turned on Utash and nearly killed him, and his mother doesn’t know how it will affect him when he learns about the accident that has, by some estimations, ripped open Detroit’s soul.
It was a fluke that young Harris was in the vicinity of of Morang and Balfour at all. When he asked if he could walk down the street and join his friends on the afternoon of April 2, his mom, who describes herself as overprotective, put her foot down.
His father pleaded his son’s case and said, “Let him go,” WXYZ reported.
“He is a good kid, an honor student,” his mother said. “I finally let him go somewhere. I have taught my child how to cross the street, but when kids go out they are going to be kids. They are going to have fun or try to at least. All we can do is hope they do what they were taught.”
That day, David Harris didn’t.
He ran into the street – something other kids suggested may have been a game of “chicken” the kids sometimes engaged in, jumping in front of cars and then back to the curb – and suffered gashes to his mouth and a broken foot.
He told his mother he wasn’t playing the dangerous game, but rather he wasn’t paying attention as he walked into the street on his way to a friend’s house.
DeAngela Harris wants the ordeal to be over.
“I just wish it was over sometimes,” said DeAngela. “That it never happened. That we never let him go anywhere.”
She said she hopes the ordeal will be over for the Utash family as well and that he will recover from his injuries.
“That was just too much,” she said of the attack. “I don’t know any of those people.”
A Long Road to Recovery
Utash awoke from his medically induced coma Thursday night and is still in and out of consciousness, but he has taken a few steps in his hospital room, his brother-in-law Max Mohr told The Detroit News. Two steps at a time are a giant leap forward for the 54-year-old Clinton Township tree trimmer’s family. “He stands but can get about two steps and that’s it,” Mohr told the newspaper. “But that’s great to us. It’s only been two weeks (since the beating).”
He didn’t recognize his three children on Monday night, but on Tuesday, he knew them.
It’s been like that in the few days he has been awake and doctors at St. John Hospital and Medical Center have told Utash’s family that his recovery will be long and arduous. Whether he will fully recover is unknown.
By Wednesday afternoon, more than $178,850 had been raised on the Go Fund Me site Utash’s family set up for donations to offset escalating medical bills. Utash doesn’t have medical insurance.
Police: ‘We’ve Got Who We’re After’
Detroit police said about a dozen people were involved in the attack. Five people have been arrested so far, including a teenager who has been charged with a hate crime under Michigan’s ethnic intimidation statute.
The investigation is continuing, but police told The Detroit News leads are drying up.
“The leads are starting to dwindle down, but we’re confident we got the key players involved,” Detroit Police SGt. Michael Woody said. “Obviously, we’re not going to stop investigating, but the information is coming in a lot slower, which is an indication that we’ve got who we’re after.”