13-year-old victim of Burnaby hit-and-run speaks out

The victim of this week’s hit-and-run in Burnaby is now sharing his story.

Joseph Gebreyes was walking to the Edmonds Community Centre to meet up with some friends Monday afternoon just after 5 p.m. when the crash happened.

“I was walking up the road and that was the last thing I remembered,” explained Gebreyes.

The 13-year-old had just passed the intersection of 17th and Humphries avenues when he was hit by an unknown vehicle.

RCMP say the driver fled.

Another driver came across his unconscious body a short time later and called 911.

His mother says she was shocked when she got the call about what had happened.

“I go to my neighbour to ask for a ride because I don’t have control, control of my emotions,” said Milagro Guillen, describing the moment she heard the news.

Guillen rushed to his side, but when she arrived, he was so disorientated he didn’t recognize anything.

“I remember waking up in the hospital and then they told me what happened,” said the teen.

Doctors at Royal Columbian Hospital then described to him the long road to recovery ahead.

“They told me I had a broken femur and that I had to do surgery to fix it,” Gebreyes told CTV News.

He also had a concussion, a fat lip, and major bruising.

“They put pins in my leg,” said the teen as he pointed to full length leg cast.

The recovery time is at least six weeks, but he was discharged from the hospital late Christmas Day.

“I was pretty mad because I couldn’t spend much time with my family because they were just taking care of me in the hospital,” said Gebreyes.

The family’s challenges are just beginning.

The weight of the cast makes using crutches a struggle, and the family’s apartment is not large enough to use a wheelchair.

As a result, Guillen has had to take time off of work to be a full-time caregiver.

The single mom says because their home is no longer accessible, they now have to move.

“He’s not eating because he doesn’t want to have to go to the bathroom,” explained Fevan Mengastu, his aunt, as she pointed to the narrow doorway to his bedroom.

“To heal fast, he has to eat,” said Mengastu, adding that she’s concerned that their current living situation is only adding to his suffering.

RCMP made an appeal to the driver on Christmas Eve, asking the person to surrender to police.

Gebreyes’ older brother Elias says he’s disappointed the driver didn’t call for help.

“It upset me a lot, because he (the driver) didn’t know how he was going to be, if he was dead or live,” said the elder Gebreyes.

“When he hit him, he hit all of them,” said Mengastu gesturing to her family.

She says she’s frustrated that what should have been a joyous occasion was ruined for her nephews.

“This is Christmas,” she said. “No tree, nothing. And in the hospital. And I’m just really mad.”

Gebreyes is a Grade 8 student at Byrne Creek Community School.

He’ll have to take several weeks off to recover and will also be forced to quit the school’s basketball team.

“It’s over,” he said. “I can’t play.”

He’s worried he will never fully recover.

“My leg will never be the same as before,” he said.

Burnaby RCMP do not have a description of the suspect or the vehicle.

They’re asking anyone who saw anything suspicious – such as a vehicle speeding or skidding away – to contact them.

Police are also looking for security camera or dash cam footage from that day.

The public can get in touch with Burnaby RCMP by calling 604-646-9999. Tips can also be provided anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

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