Less than 24 hours after we first told you of Tuesday’s harrowing incident involving an SUV, a young boy, and, allegedly, four bags of heroin, the mother of the boy has come forward to call on police to release the name of the SUV driver and to reconsider making an arrest.
As we told you on Thursday, eyewitnesses claim that a driver in a light-colored SUV jumped a curb, hit a car, knocked a tree out of the ground, ran into a child, and tried to flee, with neighbors further alleging that the driver also tossed four bags of heroin out of the car.
After the boy was taken by ambulance to the hospital, cops declined to make an arrest and only issued a ticket for a moving violation. The driver and his passenger were then sent on their way, infuriating the neighborhood.
Well, we are happy to report that the boy, 11-year-old Alexander Saurman, appears to have escaped without serious injuries. He was treated for scrapes and bruises at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and released after abdominal x-rays showed no internal injuries.
“He’s OK,” says his mother, Margaret Saurman. “But he’s upset because the cops didn’t arrest anyone. He’s a little shocked. But he’s a tough kid. He tries so hard not to cry.”
Saurman, 40, explains that she was home with Alex, who had the day off from school on Tuesday, when she decided to take him out to lunch at Arby’s on Aramingo Avenue. They walked from their house near Memphis and Sergeant streets, cutting down Huntingdon Street, where the incident occurred.
“We’re walking down the sidewalk on Huntingdon when we heard this loud crash,” remembers Saurman. “I see this SUV coming toward us. I tried to get Alex out of the way, but it all happened so fast, and the bumper of the SUV smashed into him and he went flying.”
What happened next, Saurman isn’t exactly sure. She says that she was in shock and naturally focused on her son. She remembers the SUV continuing down to the corner and pausing momentarily before driving away, as the surveillance video seems to document. She also remembers neighbors chasing after the SUV.
Once the driver returned to the scene, leaving his SUV with its two blown-out tires in a nearby street, she says he pleaded with her not to “press charges.”
“I told him to get away from me,” says Saurman. “I needed to be with my son, and I figured let the cops handle the driver.”
But later, when she learned that the driver had not been arrested or taken in for questioning — police just wrote him the ticket and towed his car, because the registration had been suspended — she was shocked. And when she found out how dismissive the neighbors say the cops on the scene were about the incident, she became angry.
“If a black guy hit a white kid in Rittenhouse, would we be in the same situation?” asks Saurman. (The driver was reportedly a white male in his 20s from the suburbs. Alex is half-black.) “I really can’t think why they would just let him off like that. It’s ridiculous. I’ve lived in this neighborhood all my life, and I have never seen anything like this.”
Saurman says that she’s spoken with various supervisors at the police department since Tuesday and that she’s been getting the “runaround.”
“They keep telling me that this was just an accident,” she says, tearfully. “I already lost one of my sons. My oldest passed away three years ago this Monday coming. He would have been 20 years old. That’s why I can’t let this go. This guy could have killed my baby.”
Saurman says that her friends and family are all telling her to get a lawyer.
“People are saying you can sue him,” she adds. “For what, exactly? For them to pay [Alex’s] medical bills? He has insurance. It’s not about money. It’s about making sure that he doesn’t do this again. That one person next time — maybe not right away, but it’s gonna happen some day — that one person is not going to be so lucky.”
The Philadelphia Police Department has not released the name of the driver of the SUV, stating that he hasn’t been charged with any crime. But given that a moving violation was issued and an accident report completed, and considering the outcry from neighbors, we asked that the department release his name in the interest of transparency. On Friday morning, we were told that they would not be releasing the name.
“Doing so would create an unmanageable and intractable precedent,” says PPD spokesperson Capt. Sekou Kinebrew. “That said, the Police Department shares your appreciation for the importance of transparency. To that end, the captain of the 26th District — Capt. Krista Dahl-Campbell — will be holding a community meeting next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Cione Playground, Aramingo and Lehigh. There, she will address community concerns.”
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