DETROIT — A driver beaten by a crowd after his truck struck a 10-year-old boy remains unconscious and is clinging to life in a Detroit hospital Thursday.
Steve Utash, a tree trimmer from Roseville, Mich., is a good guy, the kind who cares about others and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, his daughter says.
Thursday night, his family was keeping vigil at the hospital, a day after being beaten by a group of men on Detroit's east side Wednesday. The attack happened after his pickup hit a 10-year-old boy who stepped off a curb.
His daughter, Felicia Utash, said after he was beaten, he was robbed of his money, his wallet and his credit cards.
Utash, 20, said her family is devastated.
"What happened to my dad is a shame," she said via a Facebook message. "He was doing the right thing like he always does."
"He's a tree trimmer for a living and makes sure all the squirrels were out of a tree before he cut it down," Utash said. "He's an amazing dad and person. He's very loved and those kids should be ashamed."
She said her father suffered multiple head injuries and still had not regained consciousness Thursday night. He doesn't have health insurance, and the family plans to set up a fundraiser to cover his hospital bill.
At a Thursday news conference, Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody said Steve Utash "is still in critical condition, and it's really not looking all that good."
The boy, who has been identified as David Harris, was taken to the same hospital.
James Duston Jr., David's godfather, said the boy is not out of the hospital yet. Duston said David has abrasions on his knee, swelling on his lip and is having problems with one of his feet.
According to Felicia Utash, her father was on his way home from work in his company's pickup when the accident happened.
Steve Utash got out to check on him and attempted to render aid at about 4:10 p.m. A large group of men quickly gathered and began beating Utash, Woody said.
Police have said they don't believe Utash was speeding or broke any traffic laws. Woody said that the preliminary investigation indicates the boy stepped in front of the pickup.
The child's relatives insist that none of them touched Utash. The boy's uncle, 29-year-old Desmond Key, and Duston, 29, said they heard people saying the driver tried to flee when he was beaten, but they didn't see anything to indicate that he was trying to run away.
Duston said he and Key were at a nearby house when they heard from one of David's friends that he was hit. They arrived at the scene and saw him.
They said they saw the little boy on the ground "screaming and blood just coming out his mouth," Key said. "I'm sorry that guy got hurt, but our family didn't have anything to do with that guy getting hurt."
Key said it was a scary and highly emotional scene, with the boy screaming and people running to the scene.
"We understood that David ran into the street. We understand that," Duston said, adding that the family had nothing to do with the man getting beaten.
"He's swollen he's got abrasions, and he's hurting," Duston said of his godson, adding that he'll recover.
"We don't know who they are," Key said of the people who beat Utash. Police arrested the child's father on an unrelated warrant and are questioning him about what he knows in regard to the assault, Woody said.
"Whether or not he was actually involved in the assault, that still has yet to be determined," Woody said.
Mike Berry, 29, manager at the nearby Lucky 7 party store, said he heard the commotion outside Wednesday but didn't see much because he was protecting his store.
People were running around, and he stood just inside the door for fear that people would try to loot his shelves, he said.
Woody said the area around the gas station is a popular neighborhood hangout. After the accident, 20-30 people came to the scene, Woody said. He said about 10-12 people are believed to have been involved in the beating.
Woody said the incident is tragic for the families involved.
"What we want to remind everybody, not just the citizens that live here, but those that work and play here, as well, is that ... this is not conducive to how the city of Detroit generally handles things," Woody said. "This is very much an anomaly. It's very much a shock to all of us. I would ask that everybody reserve their judgments. Right now, we have a man that's in the hospital fighting for his life. We have a young boy that I understand is also still in the hospital. He is recovering."
Felicia Utash said the family will announce a fundraiser in the coming days to help cover her father's bills.
"He doesn't deserve to have (medical bills) hanging over his head forever," she said. "This isn't fair by any means. It hurts me to know how much pain he's in, and there's nothing I can do about it but sit here with my sister and hope for the best."
Contributing: Gina Damron, Detroit Free Press