FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Dominic Peterson, 14, was the victim of a hit-and-run crash on St. Joe Center Road near Arlington Parkway North on Sunday, July 2.
Eight days later, his parents, Dan and Jacquelyn, still had no clue who the driver of the Dodge Charger that hit their son was.
Since the crash, Dominic told his parents he was simply using the crosswalk on St. Joe Center Road, they said.
He was riding a Coleman mini-bike. A bike Dan wasn’t in favor of his son having and that neither parent bought for him.
Dan said he was upset the day he came home and found it in the garage, but he wanted to let his son “be a kid.” They said he would only ever ride it in their addition on the sidewalk.
But that afternoon, Dan tried calling Dominic after texting him and not receiving a response. A police officer answered the phone and told Dan his son was involved in a crash and he was at the emergency room at Parkview Hospital.
“Initially, I thought it was a joke because you don’t expect to get an answer like that when somebody picks up the phone,” Dan explained. “So, several times – even though he was telling me he was a police officer – I had to keep asking ‘Dominic where are you?’ because I thought it was a joke.”
It was no joke. Dominic initially had a brain bleed, suffered multiple broken bones — including three broken ribs — a punctured lung, a cracked vertebrae, and he has what’s called a brachial plexus injury in his left shoulder.
That means he has a severed nerve keeping him from moving his left arm at all.
After watching the Fourth of July fireworks from a hospital window, the Petersons said Dominic had to be airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis on July 5, three days after the incident.
Doctors aren’t able to give a possible timeline on his recovery, and right now, the Petersons don’t know if their son will be able to get movement back in his left arm.
“It’s devastating to see him in the pain that he’s in and to know that there’s nothing that we can do to help take that away from him at this point right now,” Jacquelyn said.
While the Petersons are trying to focus on their son, they told WANE 15 on Monday that they felt left in the dark about what happened.
“I want to know who these people were that hit him and left him to die,” Dan said.
The Petersons told WANE 15 that since speaking to an officer at the scene the day of the crash, they hadn’t heard from police at all. They said they tried calling, but those calls weren’t returned.
Furthermore, what they were told by an officer at the scene did not match what the Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD) was telling WANE 15.
According to the Petersons, they were told there was a passenger in the Charger who suffered injuries in the crash and that a third person came and picked up both the driver and the passenger.
‘I don’t know how they would know that,” Dan said.
In a press release from Officer Paul Meitz on July 2, it was stated that the driver of the Dodge Charger fled from the scene and that officers called him and went to his home but couldn’t locate him.
There was no mention of a passenger or someone coming to pick them up.
Then, on July 4, Officer Meitz told WANE 15 in an email “The driver of the sedan hung up on police when officers tried to talk to him on the phone. He has still not talked with officers on the phone or came to the police station. Investigation is still ongoing.”
After the 15 Finds Out team pressed police for answers on Monday, the B-shift Detective Bureau and Street Crimes supervisor called the Petersons and finally gave them the answers they were looking for. He also shared that information with WANE 15 following the call.
According to Detective Sgt. John Shank, FWPD officers actually did speak with the driver the day of the crash after several attempts to reach him. They offered him a ride back to the scene, but he told them he was on the way.
Instead, the adult man’s mother showed up at the scene demanding to know why her son was needed there, Sgt. Shank said. They refused to bring him back to the scene.
Additionally, he said that the driver and his mother both refused to provide the name of the passenger who suffered minor injuries to police and that it was the driver’s mother who came and picked them both up from the scene as a brief downpour started.
“There’s three people involved in leaving the scene and leaving my son on the road, in the rain, just laying there about to die,” Dan expressed with frustration.
Sgt. Shank said they are working a thorough investigation, which takes time to complete correctly. Police know who the driver is and still have his Indiana ID as evidence.
He added that charges for ‘leaving the scene of a personal injury accident’ will be filed as a warrant request through the prosecutor’s office when they’re ready.
The driver will be asked to come in for questioning. If he declines and the warrant is active, police may look to the public for help in locating him, Sgt. Shank said.
The Petersons now know all of that information. They still don’t know exactly who the driver is, but they know he and his mother, along with an unknown passenger, saw their son in the middle of a busy street and just drove away.
“I think of a coward. Somebody who has no respect for human decency … I don’t know how any human being could just leave a child on the road knowing that they’re injured and their injuries are life-threatening,” Jacquelyn said.