DETROIT (WWJ) – The retired nurse from Detroit who stepped in and stopped the beating of a Clinton Township man following a car accident has finally talked to him–for the first time– since he was released from the hospital.
Utash was attacked by as many as a dozen people in April, according to witnesses, after he accidentally hit a 10-year-old boy with his pickup truck in Detroit and Debra Hughes stepped in to stop the beating, most likely saving his life.
“He called me first,” said Hughes, “let me know that he was doing alright and to thank me and to let me know he wanted to see me …”
Utash told her he loved her for saving his life. They also spoke about the night of the accident.
He couldn’t remember everything but he remembers stopping and going back to the scene and asking did he hit the little boy, and how was things, he cried a little bit – he started to get emotional she said.
“We talked everyday for a week – for about two hours a day. (I) let him know I was here for him if he needed anything,” said Hughes. “He’s still devastated, he’s still torn up and hurtin’ about the situation, but I didn’t really know what to tell him, you don’t really know what to tell a person, you know, when they’ve been beaten like that.”
She wishes Utash didn’t have to return to work so soon after being released from the hospital, but says Utash said he needs the money.
Utash went back to work in early August, at the time saying he was excited to return to normalcy and felt that he is now mentally and physically ready for work.
Utash, who was “nearly unrecognizable” following the beating, was in a medically induced coma for about a week. The boy was treated for a broken leg.
Five people pleaded guilty to assault and were sentenced. Attempted murder charges were dropped.
Prosecutors argued the sentences were too light for 35-year-old James Davis, who must serve a year in jail but may be released during the day for a job; and 19-year-old Latrez Cummings, who was sentenced to six months in jail.
The three others charged in the case were 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold, who was sentenced to more than six years in prison; 18-year-old Bruce Wimbush who was placed on probation; and a 17-year-old, charged as a juvenile, who will spend 90 days in a juvenile detention center.
It was alleged by some that the attack was racially charged as Utash is white and the mob was described as all black. An ethnic intimidation charge against the 17-year-old was dropped as part of a plea deal.
Saffold got the harshest sentence because of his criminal record.