Child who survived Gables hit-and-run speaks out

WSVN — A South Florida child is receiving a show of support from an officer who helped his family find justice, after a frightening hit-and-run. Turns out, the officer who helped track down the suspected driver has a special connection to the case. The Nightteam’s Rosh Lowe shows us what happened next in tonight’s edition of The Lowedown.

Eight-year-old Sebastian Ochoa has a broken leg, but you can’t break his spirit. He leads us through a special prayer he says nightly, a prayer that helped get him through a tough time.

Mike Ochoa: "As a parent, your first focus is to keep your kid safe."

His little boy, lucky to be alive after a horrible hit-and-run crash that crushed his son’s leg.

Mike Ochoa: "You start being grateful for how the accident took place. His injury is what it is, ’cause it could have been so much worse."

It was Sept. 3 on South Greenway Drive in Coral Gables. Sebastian was out with his dad, standing by his bicycle. Cops say 19-year-old Dennis Cerrato veered off the road and hit him. Cops say Cerrato took off.

When you come back to the scene, you think of those witnesses who saw this boy on the side of the road in pain, who saw his father by his side, picked up the phone and called 911.

Dispatcher: "Listen to me. I need you to get close to the boy and tell me if the boy is breathing."

Witness: "He’s breathing."

Sebastian’s father also frantically called 911.

Witness: "He got hit by a car."

Dispatcher: "Is the car still there?"

Witness: "No, the car left the scene."

Cops say, days later, Cerrato returned in the same car about one block from the scene. An alert resident took a photo of the car and sent it to Officer Smith.

Coral Gables Officer Danny Smith: "They chased that car on bicycles to get the tag a week later."

For Coral Gables Police Officer Danny Smith, the arrest was special. In July of 1997, his brother Robbie, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, was in his patrol car when he was hit and killed by a driver on the side of Interstate 95 in Northwest Miami-Dade.

Officer Danny Smith: "My best friend was Robbie Smith. I do it, not only because of my brother, but it’s what I love to do."

What he also loves to do: bring closure to crime victims. Today, he greets Sebastian with gifts.  

Officer Danny Smith: "You feel bad for a little boy who was struck by a vehicle and a driver who decided to leave."

But the biggest gift of all is for the family, who thanks God their little boy is alive.

Rosh Lowe, 7News.