'Be responsible, please': Brampton man traumatically hurt in hit-and-run begs driver to come forward
Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 8:49AM EDT Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2019 7:45PM EDT
All Navindra Sookramsingh wants is for someone to take responsibility.
Strapped to a hospital bed, a neck brace holding him upright, the 21-year-old isn’t sure he’ll ever walk again.
But he isn’t angry.
“People say that revenge and rage is usually what goes through the mind, but I think that’s wrong,” he said, sounding each word out carefully.
“It’s wrong to hate because you’ve been hurt. It hurts you more. You should forgive the person, because it’s happened and it’s not going to change.”
Sookramsingh’s life changed forever on March 17, 2019.
After having a few drinks with friends at a St. Patrick’s Day party in Brampton, Sookramsingh chose to leave his car behind and walk home. He became ill while walking in the southbound curb lane on West Drive, police said, and collapsed just south of Clark Boulevard.
A passing driver saw Sookramsingh fall and swerved to avoid him, but quickly turned around to help. The witness – who police said was “incapable” of getting out of his vehicle due to ailments of his own – pulled near the crumpled victim and encouraged him to get off the road.
As Sookramsingh was mustering the strength to get up, a southbound vehicle started to approach.
The witness flashed his high-beams at the car in an effort to get it to stop or slow down, police said, but it went unnoticed.
“The vehicle did not stop,” Det. Sgt. Gary Carty said. "It collided with Navindra who was in the process of standing up.”
The crash shattered his hip in more than 26 pieces, split his pelvis into three, broke ribs, punctured his lung, and damaged vertebrae in his neck, leaving the possibility of walking again uncertain.
He doesn’t remember anything about that night, nor does he want to.
“I can’t enjoy life as a man. I feel less than everyone else. Do you know what that’s like to feel?” he asked, his voice choked with emotion.
“A screw. That’s the only thing that’s keeping me together, like a broken toy.”
One month later, Peel police are still looking for the driver.
Police said it’s “possible” the driver was unaware that Sookramsingh was in the roadway as they approached, but that the vehicle did stop “momentarily” before driving off.
“We recognize that fear is probably the primary motivator for causing you to leave,” Carty said. “But we need your help. We need you to come forward and identify yourself to us. You know that this happened… It’s time to come forward and ease your conscience.”
New surveillance video released at Thursday’s news conference showed the Toyota Corolla suspected of being involved in the collision. Police believe the car is a 2003-2007 model with some front end damage.
Investigators are unable to identify the license plate from the video and searches through the Ministry of Transportation database of registered vehicles matching the description proved unsuccessful.
“It’s kind of akin to looking for a needle in a pile of needles,” Carty said.
Without the vehicle, police are unable to say whether charges will be laid.
“The investigation is still at a point where we don’t know why that person left the scene,” he said.
“We’re asking people that see this, wherever they are, to look for this vehicle, to think back, to cast your mind back to March 17, the weekend right around St. Patrick’s Day. If you saw one of your neighbours come home and park their car, or if their Toyota Corolla disappeared for a period of time and came back, please call us.”
Difficult recovery ahead for victim
Sookramsingh has been in hospital ever since that night, undergoing dozens of surgeries and procedures. The 21-year-old said he suffers from insomnia and depression while alone in his hospital room. “Flashes and shadows and kickbacks of partial memory” keep him up at night, he said, but it’s the little things that hurt the most.
“I think about all the things that I could have done that now I can merely dream of doing, things like picking up a cup or talking and laughing and breathing like I used to,” he said.
“I don’t feel like I’m part of my family anymore because I’m just alone in my little hospital room with visitors.”
His mother by his side as he spoke, the young man credited her for giving him strength to endure each day. Despite the support, he said money is tight and medical bills are piling up.
“I don’t have a lot of insurance and I may not get any. I do have a lot of medical bills that, as a single mother, my mom may not be able to afford on her own,” he said. “I used to try to work to try and help her as a son, and now I can’t.”
A GoFundMe page has set up to help Sookramsingh and his family through the long road to recovery ahead. Prior to Thursday's news conference, the page had raised about $4,500. That number jumped to more than $22,000 by the afternoon, thanks in part to a $10,000 anonymous donation.
In what could be seen as a testament to his strength, before the news conference ended, Sookramsingh made a point of thanking the man who stopped his car to try and help him that night.
Police said the driver has been cooperative and helpful, but has been struggling with feelings of guilt and remorse.
Sookramsingh credits him for saving his life.
“I’m here now and alive and I’m able to say thank you to you. I want to say you’ve done enough. You’ve done more than you can do,” he said, holding back tears.
“You gave me the chance to have a second life.”
Police are asking anyone who has information about the crash, vehicle or driver to contact them or Crime Stoppers anonymously.