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Mentor-on-the-Lake police continue search driver in child hit-and-run incident

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 11:25 PM EDT
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MENTOR-ON-THE-LAKE, Ohio (WOIO) - Police continue to search for a driver who struck a child on a bicycle Wednesday evening and fled the scene.

“Nothing you ever want to happen to one of your kids,” Stacy, a neighbor, said. She and her husband, Tom, chose to not share their last names during the interview.

The incident took place near the corner of Southland Rd. and Beech Dr. Police say a dark blue Kia Sorento blew past the stop sign and slammed into the child.

On Thursday, the 11-year-old came home from the hospital. He spoke exclusively with 19 News.

“I consider myself really lucky,” said Jeffrey Nealy.

11-year-old Jeffrey Nealy was visiting his grandparents in Mentor-on-the-Lake Wednesday when he decided to go for a bike ride to make friends with other kids in the neighborhood. He never expected that the evening bike ride would end with him in an ambulance.

“The passenger’s side tires hit me on my ankle,” Jeffrey recalled. “She stopped for a second to see, check on me, and then she just drove off.”

Officers posted images from a video of the incident making the rounds on social media. Witnesses say the car had an out-of-state license plate, possibly from Florida, but no one could catch the plate number. Jeffrey caught a glimpse of the driver.

“It was a white female, blonde hair,” said Jeffrey. “She was looking down at her phone. She shouldn’t have, and she just totally blew the stop sign. She was not aware of that stop sign, and I tried to stop my bike too.”

Stacy and Tom described the scene immediately following the crash as horrific.

“Shocking. It was like panic mode,” Tom said. “The whole community ran over to check on him; thank God it wasn’t worse.”

Jeffrey is hopeful the woman will turn herself in and apologize to him.

“It makes me feel angry because she hit me; she should’ve just stayed with me till the ambulance arrived, and she should’ve just turned herself in.”

The rising 6th grader also had a message for the woman.

“Why would you do this to me. I don’t really want you on the road anymore because it kind of scared me, and I just don’t want anybody else to get hurt.”

Jeffrey believes the woman was on her phone when she hit him.

“I just don’t want people texting and driving because it can lead to people getting really hurt,” he said.

Jeffrey is just using Tylenol and Neosporin to treat his road rash and cuts. He’s hoping he’ll be able to get back on his bike before the summer’s over.

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