Mother of severely injured hit-and-run victim calls on driver to 'do the right thing'
13-year-old Serene Summers was struck by a vehicle's driver on Feb. 13
Even after being struck by a driver in a hit and run, undergoing emergency brain surgery and coping with pain after coming out of a medically induced coma, 13-year-old Serene Summers still has her sweet sense of humour.
Her mother said when doctors at Ottawa children's hospital CHEO removed her ventilator, Serene struggled to regain her normal voice.
"She was crying, making fun of her voice. She was just saying 'I'm Batman,'" said Anita Armstrong, mimicking the superhero's throaty growl.
"She was sending creepy messages to her friends in her Batman voice like, 'I'm watching you.' She's such a good sport."
Headed home after buying Valentines
On Feb. 13 at about 3:45 p.m., Serene and her friend Eva got off a bus on Meadowlands Drive East near Valmarie Avenue in Ottawa's Carleton Heights neighbourhood, said Eva's mother Colleen Salinas.
The girls, both Grade 7 students at a nearby school, were headed home after a trip to buy Valentine's Day cards for their classmates, Salinas said.
According the Ottawa Police Service, the driver of a vehicle heading west on Meadowlands Drive East struck Summers and left the scene, leaving her critically injured.
Eva — who has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder — was just a few feet from her friend and saw someone in the vehicle look back, Salinas said.
"They left two little girls in the street alone," Salinas said.
"It's anybody's civic duty to find who did this and to bring … closure to our families. Serene deserves justice."
WATCH | Family, friends search for vehicle of interest after hit-and-run:
Police appealed immediately to the public for witnesses. On Feb. 24, they released photos of a Black Honda Civic they called a vehicle of interest.
The investigation remains active but there are no further details to provide, a police spokesperson said on Tuesday.
"The fact that no one has come forward to accept responsibility for what happened, or report what they might have seen, is very concerning," said Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, whose ward is steps away from the site of the collision.
"We are a community and we should be looking out for one another."
Another day canvassing our neighbourhoods for info on the driver who hit Serene. Every bit of info has been helpful, thank you! Someone knows this person! We won't stop until we have justice <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForSerene?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForSerene</a> <br><br>If you know ANYTHING pls contact <a href="https://twitter.com/CrimeStoppersOT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CrimeStoppersOT</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ottawa?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ottawa</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/help?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#help</a> <a href="https://t.co/oEoPcNwYVv">pic.twitter.com/oEoPcNwYVv</a>—@for_serene
Salinas has been knocking on doors and putting up posters of the Honda Civic.
"I wanted Serene's family to be able to focus on her," she said.
'Why didn't they help me?'
After being brought out of her coma, Serene gradually regained consciousness but still experienced a lot of pain, her mother said.
Early in her treatment — when she communicated by forming letters with her fingers — "she was on so many medications, like three pages' [worth]," Armstrong said.
Later, when a neurosurgeon asked an intubated Serene what her name was, she wrote it down with her eyes closed, Armstrong said.
"Holy mackerel, is she ever strong," she said of her daughter, who loves sports, riding her bike and talking to friends like Eva.
Now Serene's days are packed with speech, occupational and physical therapy.
She took 600 steps on Saturday, is starting to look more and more like herself and is hopeful she can attend a Justin Bieber concert on March 27, although her doctors aren't sure, Armstrong said.
"I'm just so angry sometimes when I think, yeah, she's made incredible progress in the last few weeks, but she wasn't like this before," she said.
WATCH | Serene's recovery so far:
Armstrong is calling on the driver of the vehicle that upended her family's life to come forward and take responsibility.
"My little girl is asking every day, 'Why didn't they stop? Why didn't they help me?'
"Please do the right thing."
Anyone with information about the collision is asked to contact the Ottawa police's Collisions Investigation Unit at 613-236-1222 extension 2481 or send an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.