Detroit police have arrested two teenagers in connection with the brutal attack on a man that stopped to render aid to a small child after hitting him with his vehicle Wednesday.
The teens, ages 16 and 17, were arrested early Saturday morning, Detroit police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody said, according to the Detroit Free Press. They are preparing warrant request for charges.
The teens were part of a larger mob that beat Steve Utash, 54, after his truck hit David Harris, 10. When Utash stepped out of his vehicle to help the child, he was savagely beaten. Police say the 54-year-old, who is now in a coma after suffering multiple head injuries, was not at fault for the accident. Instead, they say the boy stepped out in front of the pickup as it was headed down the road.
Woody called on the 10-12 others believed to have participated in the attack to surrender to authorities.
“To drag this out any further is really futile,” Woody said, according to the Free Press. “We’re getting closer and closer. We need to put this thing to rest for the sake of the family and citizens.”
Utash’s son, Joseph, thinks his father was intentionally targeted, but was torn on whether the attack could be classified as a “hate crime.” Utash is white and witnesses have reportedly described his attackers as black.
“I’ve talked to one Detroit police officer and I think that, personally in my own heart, I think it was all a setup from the gate,” he told WWJ-TV, ”meaning that my dad’s been driving up and down Morang for 15, 16 years working for the same company and they know he has a job, they know he has money and they robbed him. You know, he had a bag with all his stuff in it. He showed me that he had all this money in his wallet that morning, telling me he just took the money out of the bank so he could pay his dentist.”
“As far as a hate crime, it might be,” he added. “You know, it’s like you go in Detroit and you’re white, you don’t belong. Seriously. I’ve been pulled over by police before and they’re like ‘Get back across 8 Mile,’ like I’m not supposed to be over there, like I’m not allowed to go in Detroit.”
The 54-year-old remains in a coma. His family says he was so severely beaten, he was nearly nearly unrecognizable.
“If it went on any longer, my dad wouldn’t be in the hospital right now, he would be in the morgue. The way he looked, I am surprised that he is alive,” Joseph told WWJ-TV. “He has bruising over his face, his eyes are swollen, I believe it’s his left eye that is completely swollen shut. He also has a big, huge knot on his forehead like he got hit with an object, not a fist.”
[sharequote align=”center”]“If it went on any longer, my dad wouldn’t be in the hospital right now, he would be in the morgue.”[/sharequote]
A nurse that stopped the beating and helped Utash recalled the moments of the attack.
“He was already down, bleeding from the mouth and the nose – so there wasn’t nothing else they could do to him but kill him,” Debra Hughes told WWJ-TV.
“Then EMS came and I kept him calm, I kept his hands down and everything so he could be comfortable,” she continued. “He had the biggest gash on his head I ever seen – he was bleeding from the mouth and he was unconscious when I first got there … being a registered nurse, I thought I could go out and help him.”
If he wakes up from his coma, he will have a long journey ahead to recovery, Utash’s family says.
“It will be months just for him to have therapy,” daughter Mandi Emerick told the Free Press. “We know the damage is in the frontal lobe. The doctors said he can either wake up and be fine or might need people to dress him. We’re glad he’s stable, but not knowing is still pretty nerve-racking.”
At the time of publication, over $86,000 had been raised online to help fund Utash’s treatment.
The young boy hit by Utash’s vehicle is expected to recover, according to his uncle, WWJ-TV reported.
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