Hit-and-run victim recovering from surgery, breathing on his own

Published: May. 24, 2011 at 8:00 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:19 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - The victim of a hit-and-run is recovering and on Tuesday night began breathing on his own.

Samuel Abate made it through another surgery Tuesday and his family is excited about his progress.

In an email to KOLD News 13, Abate's father, Bill Abate wrote:

"Samuel made it through another surgery today to correct some fractures in his left hand and is now breathing on his own! Our family appreciates all that (KOLD News 13) is doing to bring awareness to this tragic event, and I cannot imagine that this woman will not be brought to justice."

The family as set up a Wells Fargo Account set up for his recovery needs: "The Samuel Abate Donation Account."

Meanwhile, Tucson Police are encouraging the woman who injured Abate on Friday to turn herself in and face the consequences.

"She needs to think hard, long and hard about coming in and turning herself in," said Tucson Police Sgt. Mary Slyter. "The prosecutors and judges, they will look favorably on her actions if she takes that positive action of bringing herself in."

Sgt. Slyter is talking about the woman suspected of hitting Tucson

Immediately after the collision that injured 23 year old Abate on Friday on North Swan Road, witnesses say the woman appeared to pull over. But as soon as everybody's attention turned to the injured cyclist, she took off and never looked back.

"She slowed down," says the victim's father Bill Abate.  "Everybody at the scene thought she was gonna stop so they started rendering aid to Sam - and this woman peels out."

The suspect vehicle is described as a late model Nissan Altima, black or dark in color. It likely has extensive damage to the windshield and front end.

The driver was a white female, with reddish hair. She's said to be in her late teens to early 20s.

"I was very surprised that the woman continued to drive away."

Penalties for leaving the scene of a collision are very steep. In many cases, what could have been a simple traffic citation turns into a criminal offense, perhaps even a felony.

Hit and run collisions happen all too often in our community.  Even though the numbers are actually down this year - 104 this year, 138 last year at this time - what happened to Abate serves as a sobering reminder to any motorist, cyclist or pedestrian who hits the streets.

"Even if it's your fault, it's better for you to stay," Slyter said.

Judie Rodriguez didn't witness the collision, but she did see that dark-colored sedan leaving the scene of the accident in a real hurry.

"(I) saw a woman driving north in her vehicle, with a soccer ball sized opening in her passenger windshield."

That's why Tucson Police are looking at virtually every auto glass dealer in town.

Somebody out there has some idea who did this.

If the driver of that car hasn't fixed her windshield yet, it's only a matter of time until she tries to.

"His mom is broken, his brother is broken, his sister is heartbroken," says Bill Abate, whose son remains hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury.  "I can't sit still. I have to do something and I just want this person to take responsibility for their actions."

If you have any information about this hit and run, call 911 or 88 Crime, the Pima County Attorney's anonymous tip line.

A reward up to one thousand dollars will go to the person whose tip leads to arrest in this unsolved case.

Copyright 2011 KOLD. All rights reserved.