Man in wheelchair struck by hit-and-run driver in NW Miami-Dade

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida man is speaking out after, he said, a driver struck him while he was crossing the street in his electric wheelchair and sped away.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ronald Ephord, who lives with cerebral palsy, lay in his bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital, while his mother, Tracy Thomas, sat by his side.

Thomas had some harsh words for the motorist who, Ephord said, hit him so hard that he flew out of the wheelchair and hit the pavement, Tuesday night.

“You hit hit, and you knew you hit him, and you didn’t stop,” she said. “You just kept going.”

The 27-year-old, who is confined to a wheelchair, is hopeful that police will locate the driver. “I hope they find him,” he said.

“Don’t think that this person was going to get away with that,” Thomas said to her son, “because if he’s going to get away with it here, he won’t get away with it in heaven. You were guided by the angels.”

Thomas then turned to the 7News crew. “If you see the damage to the wheelchair — he was protected by the angels,” she said.

A photograph taken the night of the crash shows the mangled electric wheelchair with extensive damage.

Ephord said that he was going to a market located one block from his Northwest Miami-Dade apartment complex, In the area of Northwest 46th Street and 23rd Avenue, to buy iced tea, a daily ritual for him.

Witnesses said a silver pickup truck hit Ephord and fled.

The victim’s aunt, Latasha Williams, found her nephew lying on the street. “It was sad, because he was unconscious for a second or two,” she said. “He was not in the chair. He was in the middle of the road.”

Williams showed 7News the damaged wheelchair. “You see this wheel has been totally [pulled] from the wheelchair. This part right here has been knocked off,” she said. “His seat is supposed to be straight up and down; as you can see, it’s reclined.”

Paramedics rushed Ephord to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Thursday afternoon, he remained in a tremendous amount of pain.

Meanwhile, his loved ones hope his story will bring about justice in his case.

Speaking to her son, Thomas said he deserves to be treated with dignity. “You’re somebody, Ronald., regardless of what people may look or say, you’re somebody,” she said. “You know how you know you’re somebody? The angels protect you. They protected you, and don’t you forget that. You’re blessed.”

Thomas wondered who could be so heartless as to leave her son on the ground, in pain. “You just can’t hit someone, and you can just ride off like that,” she said. “I love him. Ronald is special to me. He may be nothing to you, but he’s very special to me, and you can’t do that. You just can’t do that.”

If you have any information on this hit-and-run, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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