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Boy, 3, recovering after hit-and-run; Investigation ongoing

By Staff | Oct 9, 2008


Gage Root, a 3-year-old injured in a hit-and-run accident Tuesday afternoon in north Cape Coral, is recovering in a Tampa Bay hospital, according to his aunt.

“We talked to (Gage) this morning,” said Nikki King, 17, his aunt. “He’s doing way better. He was holding my finger … he’s moving around. He’s breathing a little bit on his own.

Gage was struck by a northbound vehicle after he tried to cross Del Prado Boulevard. He was airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg in an unresponsive state, and remained critical at Tampa General Hospital on Wednesday evening.

King described her young nephew, who lives in the north Cape with his mother and aunt, as athletic and energetic.

He likes dirt bikes and helicopters,” King said. “He likes animals. He’s a very fun kid. He loves to do everything; he’s always going bike riding.

Gage suffered many serious injuries from the accident, including lung damage, liver damage, a broken pelvis, a broken femur and a shattered left cheek, King said.

Police said the vehicle did not stop after hitting Gage.

(The driver) left,” King said. “How can you do that? How can you hit a 3-year-old boy and leave?

The person identified as the owner of the car, Kenneth Upmann, 42, has been detained as a person of interest in the case, Barron said. His car has been impounded.

Upmann had not been charged as of Wednesday evening.

According to an accident report, the vehicle was traveling the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour when the accident happened, and “
attempted to stop and skidded before striking (Gage).

The report states whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the accident is pending test results.

King said Gage got out of the wagon she was pulling him in as they returned home from Publix at the corner of Kismet Parkway and Del Prado. King told him to get back in the wagon, but Gage ran across Del Prado.

I didn’t expect him to run,” King said. “I don’t know if he was chasing a butterfly or just trying to get on the sidewalk.

King ran after Gage, but when she got to him the car was already there, she said. King said she was so close that she touched the car as it ran over the tips of her shoes.

That’s how close I was to catching Gage,” King said. “If it had been a second later I could have saved him. I wanted to get him and pull him back out of the road.

As King took Gage from the road, he was not breathing. She asked construction workers to help.

One worker — “
I think his name was Shawn,” King remembered — performed CPR on Gage until he started breathing several minutes later.

King did not know Shawn’s last name, but Shawn D. Heinlein, a North Port man, is listed as a witness on the accident report. There is no other person named Shawn listed.

I love him to death,” King said of the worker who helped Gage. “I don’t know him, but I love him like a brother.

King has taken the guilt of the accident upon herself.

I can’t sleep, I can’t eat barely,” King said. “I think people look at me different now; I take the blame on myself. If it was you, you would blame yourself too.”

Gage’s mother remained in Tampa with him Wednesday night.

A fund has been opened on Gage’s behalf. King said donations are accepted on behalf of Gage Root at any local Bank of America.

Police continue to investigate the incident.