Severely beaten driver is out of hospital and back home
DETROIT — A 54-year-old Michigan tree trimmer — beaten nearly to death after going to the aid of a child he accidentally struck with his vehicle — is home after spending more than six weeks in a hospital and rehabilitation center.
The “Help Steven Utash” Facebook page posted the news Saturday night. Cheryl Angelelli, a spokeswoman for DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, confirmed Utash was discharged on Thursday.
Steven Utash was set upon by about a dozen people April 4 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.
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.”
The prosecutor’s office said the boy who was struck by Utash’s truck was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for a leg injury and released.
Five suspects ranging in age from 16 to 30 have been charged so far for their roles in the attack.
The four adult suspects are charged with attempted murder while the fifth, a juvenile, is charged with assault and ethnic intimidation.
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.
Worthy spokeswoman Maria Miller said the adults are scheduled to go to trial in August and the juvenile in June. She said that there was not sufficient evidence to charge the other suspects with ethnic intimidation, but that the case remains open and the investigation ongoing.
A Change.org petition demanding that Moreno charge Utash’s assailants with a hate crime had 124 signatures Sunday morning. 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.
Utash’s other daughter, Mandi Marie Utash, set up a GoFundMe.com page for her father — who she says does not have health insurance — with the goal of raising $50,000.
By Sunday morning, more than 4,500 donors had contributed $186,298.