Prayer candles surround a photo of Santiago Ramirez, 11, on his family’s table, as the boy remains in critical condition at an Atlanta hospital after being hit by a truck Monday, Oct. 19, near his Gainesville home.
Javier Ramirez, the boy’s father, said he has called police numerous times about people driving too fast on Buena Vista Circle in the family’s neighborhood.
“Today was my kid. What’s going to be next?” Ramirez asked. “Another kid, my neighbors or somebody else. It could be your kid.”
Santiago was riding his bicycle around 6:30 p.m. Monday while outside with his siblings. His mother was sweeping the driveway when a Ford F-150 struck Santiago. Police said Santiago left the driveway on his bike and was hit when he entered the street.
Ramirez said his son suffered two cracks in his skull, and doctors have been concerned about his brain swelling.
It was hard for Santiago’s father to talk about the medical procedures his son has experienced while suffering a “lot of pain.”
“It’s not fair,” Ramirez said while showing a video of his son receiving a CAT scan.
Neighbor Maberth Bonilla said many cars speed down Buena Vista Circle, and she estimated that some are going twice the speed limit.
With children regularly outside on their bikes or walking, Bonilla said he worries for their safety because of cars speeding down the road.
“I told (my older son) so many times before he went into the military, ‘Hey, don’t drive too fast,’” Ramirez said. “If you want to do it, go to the freeway. … But don’t do it out here, because you need to respect others.”
Santiago’s sister drew a picture of Spider-Man, one of Santiago’s favorite characters, with a note wishing him well that sits next to his photo on the family’s table. Ramirez said his son is quite creative and likes to draw pictures.
Santiago’s older brother, Javier Ramirez Jr., has been serving with the U.S. Air Force for nearly a year and has been home to help out with the family. The brother held up a drawing of the U.S. Air Force logo Santiago drew for him.
Ramirez said he prefers to see kids outside instead of inside staring at their phones, but he wants people in the community to be safe while driving and for families to watch out for dangerous driving in their own neighborhoods.
But, he added, “Right now, my main thing is watching my son get (to) recovery."
The Times asked Gainesville Police Friday, Oct. 23, about complaints of speeding or dangerous driving in Buena Vista Circle area. The Times also asked whether the driver in the Oct. 19 incident will face charges. Police did not immediately respond to the requests.
Intern Daniela Carrasco contributed to this report.