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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    7-year-old critical after being hit by van in Pleasantville; police seek driver


    A 7-year-old boy was critically injured Saturday night after he was struck by a minivan while riding his bicycle on Franklin Boulevard less than a block from his house.

    The driver and two passengers fled, leaving the boy, Robert Lewis, unconscious at the side of the road, witness Amadis Veraga said. Veraga ran out of his house upon hearing the crash at about 7 p.m. and saw the men running away.

    Veraga, 20, said he tended to Lewis, who was breathing but unconcious on the ground. He called police from his cellphone and talked to the child until help arrived.

    Within minutes, police found two of the three people involved less than a half-mile from the scene, Pleasantville police Sgt. Matthew Hartman said. Police did not release their names Saturday night.

    The third person — the driver — remained at large a half-hour later when two women approached the intersection.

    One of them was sobbing.

    “”That’s my car, that’s my car,”” she said. She repeated the phrase over and over as she moved closer to the scene, until an officer stopped her and interviewed her.

    She told the officer she did not know who had her car or what had happened. Police said she is not a suspect.

    Lewis initially was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, in Atlantic City, Hartman said, but he has since been transported to Cooper University Hospital inCamden. Police said Lewis’ injuries are life-threatening.

    The Veraga family stayed outside past sunset, watching investigators from the Police Department and Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Fatal Accident Unit examine the scene atFranklin and Charles Avenue. Investigators remained on the scene past 11 p.m. Saturday.

    Behind the police tape surrounding the intersection, the minivan was crumpled against a tree just outside the fence of Veraga’s front yard. The force of the impact had displaced the street signs. On the opposite corner, the bicycle of the victim’s companion — a young cousin, Veraga said — had been abandoned.

    The damage to the van made Veraga, an auto mechanic, think the vehicle was going between 30 and 40 miles per hour when it swerved unsuccessfully to avoid hitting the child. He said accidents do not happen there often but that speeding is a problem along Franklin Boulevard.

    Police occasionally set up patrol details on Franklin to nab people for driving faster than the posted limit, Hartman said.

    Veraga and his relatives recalled seeing Lewis playing outside often. They wondered why the men in the van would abandon the child.

    “”The question is, why run?”” Veraga said.

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