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Daughter of severely beaten driver says he’s breathing on his own

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Steven Utash

DETROIT — The 54-year-old Michigan tree trimmer severely beaten after he accidentally struck a child who had stepped into the street earlier this month is breathing on his own, according to his daughter.

“He is off the ventilator and is able to breathe on his own,” Mandi Marie Utash posted Friday to a page she and her brother set up for their father, who they say does not have health insurance.

Steven Utash was set upon by about a dozen people after his truck struck a 10-year-old boy, police said. After Utash stopped his vehicle to help the boy, he was “severely beaten” with “fists and feet,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.

Authorities credited a woman who stepped in as Utash was being attacked with saving his life.

Mandi Marie Utash wrote that her father doesn’t seem to know what happened to him or why he was in the hospital, but that he is able to wiggle his toes on command and answer yes or no questions. “These are baby steps,” she says.

She wrote that her father “keeps flashing back to the assault screaming for “HELP” and “PLEASE GET THEM OFF ME.”

“This is a long road ahead,” she said. “But the end of the road will be worth it.”

Steven Utash had previously been in a medically induced coma.

Jennifer Moreno, a police spokeswoman, told CNN that all of the alleged assailants were African-American and that none are known to be related to the boy or his family. She said the beating was “a spontaneous response.” Utash is white.

Five suspects ranging in age from 16 to 30 have been arrested so far and charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, according to Worthy.

The 16-year-old, who is charged as a juvenile, is accused of ethnic intimidation.

The state of Michigan’s penal code says a person is guilty of ethnic intimidation “if that person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, causes physical contact with another person [or] damages, destroys, or defaces any real or personal property of another person.” It can carry a prison sentence of up to two years.

On Saturday, the 16-year-old had his preliminary hearing and was ordered held on $400,000 bond. His next court appearance will be April 17.

The prosecutor’s office said the boy who was struck by Utash’s truck was taken to a local hospital and treated for a leg injury. He is at home recovering.

Some have suggested that the attack reflects racial tensions in the city. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones issued a statement Friday asking for calm.

“This senseless vigilante-style attack is not the essence of who we are as Detroiters and will not be tolerated,” the statement said.

Utash’s other daughter, Felicia Utash, told CNN affiliate WXYZ that she doesn’t want to believe the assault on her father was a hate crime, but she is pleased that suspects have been apprehended.

Police were searching for the remaining suspects.


  • Jesus Effing. Christ

    The 16-year-old, who is charged as a juvenile, is accused of ethnic intimidation.

    If the 16 year old was white and the driver was black this would be a Hate Crime, Not Ethnic Intimidation.

    • Jesus Effing. Christ

      The Details on race is there. Sometimes it helps to read the story before you comment.

      “Jennifer Moreno, a police spokeswoman, told CNN that all of the alleged assailants were African-American and that none are known to be related to the boy or his family. She said the beating was “a spontaneous response.” Utash is white.”

  • sherry

    I hope everyone of them has to spend time in prison and off the streets. this was totally uncalled for. This wasn’t nothing but a hate crime

  • samiam

    Ms Bowen you need to reread the article again. It said all the attackers were Afro American, and were not relations to the boy that was hit. Was it a hate crime or was it 5 ignorant people trying to make a wrong right. You see people make mistakes weather it was the boy that got hit, or the driver of the vehicle, it was not the responsibility of those 5 persons to take the law into their own hands, Call it what you want, I call it wrong!

  • Thomas Christopher

    Still waiting for Eric Holder and Barack Obama to inject themselves into this crime as they did Trayvon Martin, but you guessed it: this hate crime victim is the wrong color! Same treatment, and injustice, for black-on-white murder victims Chris Lane, Delbert Belton, and Shine Thornton where racial motive may also have been a possible motive.

  • brenda

    It don’t matter what you call it. It is uncalled for. The man didn’t mean to hit the kid with his truck. The kid didn’t mean to walk out into the path of the truck. He stopped and got out to check on the boy. Then others stepped in and caused trouble.No matter what the race was, He was suppose to stop and give aid to the victim. Hope everyone learns something from this. Wait for the law, police, sheriff, or state trooper to investigate this. May God bless the man and the boy in this accident. People needs to go back to church to learn right from wrong.

  • audrey

    Well this should scare whites into staying in their locked cars instead of getting out to help a fellow black human being as they normally would. Some blacks are hypocrites to say it’s wrong for a gang to jump on a black man ( Rodney King–serial criminal ) then they themselves jump on every innocent person in their reach. These were a thuds , get all of them off the streets.

  • klip

    If it was a white kid who stepped into a street and got hit by black driver, that driver would leave the scene

  • JT

    You need to look up the definition of hate crime, brainiacs. From the legal definition (and yes, that’s the one you have to go by), this does not fit the parameters outlined in the legal statues to be considered a hate crime. Sorry to disappoint you…

      • JT

        But you have to PROVE that race was the motive. In this case, misplaced aggression is reasonable doubt. Try again, Mike.

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