Man accused of hitting 4-year-old boy told police he wasn’t aware he struck the child

PITTSBURGH — The man accused of hitting a 4-year-old boy with his SUV and then driving off told police he remembered the boy running in front of his vehicle but was not aware whether he hit the child.

James Phelps, 74, turned himself in Sunday after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, video shows Elijah Rivers getting struck by the front bumper of the vehicle and sliding across the pavement.

Elijah was taken to UPMC Children’s Hospital with a concussion and broken bones.

>>Man suspected in hit-and-run of child in Pittsburgh’s Hill District turned himself in, police say

Channel 11 spoke with the boy’s mother, Shawtae Averytt, who said he’s walking and talking, but the recovery process is not over yet.

“I can’t sleep. Every time I look at my son, I see him lying on the ground. I’m so glad it turned out better than what it could have,” Averytt said.

>>Boy, 4, hit by vehicle in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, driver flees scene

Video helped police identify the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run, which they tracked to the Oak Hill Apartments, near Oakland.

Once in custody, Phelps admitted that the vehicle was his and that he was sorry for what he had done, the complaint said.

Phelps is in the Allegheny County Jail.

Elijah could be cleared soon to return home and continue his recovery.

“Thank God my son had an angel on him. My son definitely had an angel on him,” said Averytt. “I just want to thank God, honestly.”

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