The Detroit mob attack on a driver who accidentally struck a 10-year-old boy and got out of his car to help has now led to a fifth arrest with more arrests “a strong possibility,” according to the Detroit police chief. But while prosecutors decide whether to bring hate crime charges against the suspects, the retired nurse who heroically stopped the attack, says she saw nothing that made her believe race was the assailants’ motive.
The mob attack happened on April 2 at about 4:10 in the afternoon at the intersection of Morang and Balfour Streets in Detroit, near a Clark gas station. The boy, David Harris, stepped quickly into traffic where he was hit by driver Steven Utash, a 54-year-old father of three (pictured above).
Police on Wednesday announced that a fifth suspect, a 19-year-old man whose name was not made public, was arrested in connection with the Detroit mob attack. Three suspects have been charged so far: Wonzey Saffold, 30, James Davis, 24, and Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17.
Police have said that Utash was not to blame for the accident and no charges will be filed against him. The Detroit mob attack victim, a resident of Roseville, Michigan, is white. The suspects who have been arrested so far are all African-American.
The Detroit police chief said that “all angles” of the crime are being investigated, including whether it was a racially motivated hate crime. Utash’s son, Joe Utash, has said that he believes the attack was racially motivated. But Deborah Hughes, a retired nurse who saved Utash’s life when she intervened to stop the mob attack, said she saw nothing to indicate that race was a factor.
“I didn’t hear anything racial, but it’s hard to tell everything that was being said because people were all yelling at the same time,” Hughes said. “I know some people were screaming, ‘You hit my cousin,’ and ‘You hit my nephew,’ but I didn’t hear anyone say ‘You white so-and-so’ or anything like that.”
Hughes, who lives nearby, immediately stopped to help the boy, who suffered leg injuries that turned out not be life-threatening. Utash stopped his vehicle and also tried to help.
But before he could reach the boy, the mob attack began. A group of men, whose numbers are not certain but have been reported at about 10 or 12, kicked, stomped and punched Utash, causing severe head injuries. At last report, the Detroit mob attack victim remained in the hospital, in a medically induced coma.
His life was saved when Hughes ran toward the mob and pleaded with them to stop the attack.
“I said ‘Please don’t hit him anymore,’ and they backed up. Everybody cleared the way and gave me room to work on him,” Hughes told The Detroit News. “Nobody cussed me. They didn’t attack me. They just let me do what I needed to do.”
The retired Detroit nurse said she proceeded to massage the mob attack victim’s neck and chest to get his circulation going. By the time he woke up in a panic, paramedics had already arrived.
Hughes said that witnessing Detroit mob attack left her “devastated” and was “one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen.” The hero nurse now plans to move out of the area where the attack took place.