YOUNGSTOWN -- A 16-year-old South Side boy was in critical condition this morning at St. Elizabeth Health Center after being hit by a van as he walked along Indianola Avenue.
Assistant city Prosecutor Bassil Ally said the teen may be paralyzed.
James Hayes of Samuel Avenue was walking in the left lane near Homestead Street around 6:20 p.m. Thursday when he was struck; the van fled the scene, city police reports show.
Anthony Direnzo, 34, of Richland Avenue pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor suspended license charge and entered no plea to felony charges of aggravated vehicular assault and leaving the scene of an accident.
Magistrate Anthony Sertick Jr. ordered $41,500 bond.
Witnesses told police the boy was hit by a white GMC van that sped from Homestead onto Indianola. The driver slowed briefly after hitting the teen and fled.
An ambulance driver told police his vehicle had nearly been hit by a white van driven by an angry driver, frightening a patient, around 4:15 p.m. at Glenwood and Indianola avenues and gave officers a license plate number. When officers went to the home of the vehicle owner, the woman said it was likely taken by her grandson, who is Direnzo.
Police found the van abandoned near Roy and Elberen streets, where a witness said he saw Direnzo walk from the van to a waiting car. They found him at the Richland Avenue address, the home of his mother, who had picked him up from the van around 8 p.m. She told police that her son had said the van's brakes had failed.
Ally said Direnzo has a record with at least 10 arrests, including convictions for driving under the influence, driving under suspension and misdemeanor hit-skip.