While staring at her nephew in his hospital bed, his head covered in stitches and his body a jigsaw of broken bones, Arlene Lewis is convinced someone out there is unable to sleep at night.
Someone, she says, had to have been watching as the two teenagers trotted across Gordon Highway close to midnight on April 12. The person driving the old Toyota Corolla must have known the car hit her nephew Devontae Sims and his friend Zykeith Harris, both 14.
Didn’t anyone care as a second and third car struck Zykeith, killing the boy and leaving Devontae critically injured, she wonders?
“You’re talking about human beings, you’re talking about running over children,” Lewis said. “What I wish they would do is think about if it was their child. How would they feel? Just turn yourself in. I don’t see how they could live with themselves if they don’t.”
Police are still searching for two vehicles believed to be involved in the fatal hit-and-run – a 1993-1997 Corolla with front end and driver side damage, and a dark color Chevrolet Impala driven by a male with the nickname “Black.” The third vehicle has not been identified.
“Being in law enforcement for over 20 years, I’ve seen hit and runs but I haven’t seen anything of this magnitude,” said Sgt. Michael McDaniel. “It appears to be an intentional thing with not just one vehicle that struck the juveniles, but the second and subsequently the third. Then you’re looking at all three leaving the scene.”
Lewis said Devontae, a seventh grade student and football player at Murphey Middle School, is distraught about Zykeith’s death and trying to understand his own survival.
Devontae stunned family and friends when he made it through despite a broken leg and arm, a cracked pelvis, shattered hip and nearly losing an eye.
But fighting to survive is nothing new for Devontae.
In 2009 Devontae’s father, Johnnie Lee Lewis, shot and killed the boy’s mother, Tonya Sims, on her front lawn before shooting himself in the head, according to police reports.
After the incident, the couple’s six children were split up among relatives.
Lewis said Devontae and his younger brother went to live with an uncle, who often left the kids at the homes of friends of friends, sometimes losing track of where they were.
“I would get phone calls at night from police officers asking me to come get them,” Lewis said.
After raising her two children and fostering eight others, Lewis, 52, adopted Devontae and his brother, Jeremiah, in 2010.
Since then Devontae has excelled in school, keeping his attendance and grades high enough to stay on the football team, said Murphey Principal Veronica Bolton.
“We love him here,” Bolton said. “Devontae is personable and always smiling. He makes everyone smile. He’s the type of kid that stops by the front office just to give the staff a hug.”
Football coach Calvin Pryor said Devontae has recently been asking about college and ways to earn scholarships to get there.
The tight-knit football team, which won the middle school district championship last year and placed fourth in a tournament in Tampa, Fla., has been floored by the incident and concerned about Devontae returning to play in August.
According to Lewis, doctors are not sure when Devontae can return home or if he’ll have to be transferred to Atlanta’s children’s hospital for treatment. Pryor said his school family is hoping it’s sooner than later.
“I just hope the person responsible does the right thing and steps up,” Pryor said. “When tragedy happens, people need answers. The only way the community can heal is through answers, and we don’t have them.”