DELTONA, Fla. - Volusia County deputies arrested and charged a man in the hit-and-run crash that injured a 4-year-old boy last week.
Jeremy Vega, 19, faces charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license and burglary of an unoccupied structure. He's being held on no bond.
Luis Ortiz suffered two broken legs in the crash, which was so strong that it broke concrete on the bus stop bench where Luis and his family were sitting.
During the crash, a piece of the car's headlight broke off and was left at the scene. Based on that part number, the manufacturer was able to identify the headlight assembly as coming from a 1999 Chrysler 300M, the same kind of vehicle found on fire on Thursday, one day after the crash, in the parking lot of the Deltona Community Center.
Although the car was set on fire -- possibly destroying evidence -- deputies said they have enough from eyewitnesses to put Vega behind bars.
"I didn't do nothing," said Vega when asked by Local 6 why he left the scene of the crash.
It took five days for Vega to turn himself in to deputies after they said he crashed his car and injured Luis, whose family doesn't buy his denials.
"He can deny and say he didn't do it, but everybody knows he did it," said Luis' brother, Abraham Ortiz, who was there when the car ran off the road and barreled toward his family. "We just see these two cars driving right bumper to bumper, arguing. Then we see the one behind him throw something out, he comes back down and lost control."
Deputies said Vega lost control in a fit of road rage with the driver of a green pickup truck. To the little boy's family, it's still baffling how anyone could leave the scene of an accident.
The elder Ortiz told Local 6, "Where could you possibly go after that where you wouldn't feel guilty and your conscience wouldn't eat you alive?"
The answer may lie in Vega's criminal record. He was on probation for burglary and was already not supposed to drive because he had a suspended license.
As deputies hauled him off to jail, Luis' family said they hope Vega never has a chance to injure anyone else.
"It's upsetting. Very upsetting. We don't know if he's going to do it again," said Ortiz. "If he does it again, imagine how it's going to feel for another family that has to go through the same thing."
Deputies still want to find the driver of the truck that was involved in the road rage because they think he might be another good witness. Authorities said he won't be charged in the hit-and-run.
Luis is home from the hospital after suffering two broken legs. His family said he's using a wheelchair to help move around, but he should be fully recovered in 6 to 8 weeks.
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