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4-year-old boy’s family asks driver who hit their son to come forward

Posted at 11:28 PM, Jan 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-25 23:28:30-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --  The search continues for a driver who ran over a four-year-old boy after he ended up in the road while sledding at Richmond Park.

The boy is still recovering from extensive injuries in the intensive care unit, and his family is asking for the public's help to catch the driver who sped off, leaving their son unconscious.

Gabriel Alejandro Castillo, Jr., was sledding down Richmond Hill when he ended up on Richmond Street. Grand Rapids Police say a car hit the boy and kept on going.

Sunday afternoon, people sledding down Richmond hill said slope conditions are extremely icy, even dangerous at times.

Gabriel was at Richmond Hill Saturday evening with his cousin and his father. It was Gabriel’s first winter trying out a sled. He was riding a saucer-like sled down the hill when the accident happened. The group was on their last run of the night before they were going to head home.

“He is convinced he is Batman, so he always just tries these crazy things,” said Sarah Alflena, Gabriel’s mom.

It could have been his last sledding experience.

“A car was going over the speed limit over on Richmond and hit Gabriel and kept going, and ran right over him with the front tires,” said Alflena.

Gabriel was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors determinted he had a laceration on his spleen, broken ribs and collar bone, and a concussion.

“I was just sitting here wondering if my son is alive or not,” said Alflena.

The family says doctors tell them Gabriel has been recovering miraculously well.

“He's a four-year-old boy,” said Alflena. "He didn't deserve that."

Gabriel is now awake, periodically, and talking. He remembers the whole incident.

“He looked at his dad and said ‘Why didn't you catch me dad?’”

On Sunday, police found the car that ran Gabriel over but continued to search for the driver.

“[They] could have stopped and at least made sure he is okay,” said Alflen.

Alflen says she forgives the driver and knows accidents happen, but she says she wants the driver to come forward.

FOX 17 went back to the hill Sunday to see what the conditions are like there. It was no surprise the hill was just covered with ice.

“I am not comfortable with sending her down there on her own right just yet,” said Jake McCarren, father of a three-year-old daughter. He spent the day sledding with his daughter until the conditions became too slick.

Three runs were all it took before they called it quits. “We had to tuck and roll on the last run, and that's when it ended,” said McCarren.

We had our camera ride on the sleds with some of the kids. As a boy named Trevor took a run with our cameras, he lost control of his sled, like Gabriel’s. Luckily, he bailed from his sled when he hit the sidewalk.

While the footage is a demonstration of how quickly something can go wrong, Gabriel’s family is just asking for closure. They hope drivers will take precautions when children may be playing in the area.

“We know it wasn't done on purpose,” said Alflena. "Who knew the sled was going to veer off like that?  I do hope they come forward."