CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — The parents of an 8-year-old victim of a hit-and-run collision say witnesses can identify the driver who collided into her, but three weeks later the parents say they can’t find out from police if investigators are close to making an arrest.
On Aug. 18, their daughter, Noel Dickens, and two of her friends were on their bicycles near their homes in Clayton County, on their way home just before dark, when Noel was struck by the driver of a motor scooter. She was nearly killed.
One of Noel's friends who was with her, nine-year-old Dylan Flores, said Tuesday that the scooter was a motorized dirt bike, and they saw it coming toward them just before it collided into Noel.
Dylan said the driver of the scooter was a 16-year-old boy they all know from the neighborhood.
“He was on his phone texting people and he just ran into her,” Dylan said. The impact threw Noel off of her bicycle and onto the asphalt.
Then Dylan said the teen picked up Noel and carried her to the side of the street, drove away on his scooter, and never came back.
“He said he was going to go get his dad,” or Noel's dad, Dylan said. “But he lied. He went home."
Three weeks later, Noel’s mother, Candy Miller, told 11Alive that even with the witnesses, Clayton County police have still not told her and her family if they've arrested the 16 year old boy.
“They (Noel’s friends) knew immediately who did it,” Miller said. “They know him. You know, he spoke to them. He told him he was going to go get help... but thankfully they were smart enough to go get the neighbor, whose house it was in front of, to call the ambulance. Thank goodness. Because they saved her life.”
Miller spoke just outside Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, where doctors had told her that Noel sustained life-threatening injuries.
“She has brain damage,” Miller said, fighting back tears. “She's having to re-learn how to walk. She can't eat right now. The part of her spine that broke affects swallowing. She can't swallow. She has to suction or spit out. She was a perfectly healthy, fit little girl before this, you know, like, spunky, bossy.”
Miller has taken brief breaks from sitting with Noel to go back to their neighborhood, knocking on one door after another, looking for clear door-cam videos that might show the collision, and she’s finding some videos that appear to show the teen on his scooter before and after the collision, and driving from the scene moments after the collision.
The teen’s father told 11Alive on the phone Tuesday that his son was away that night, so he couldn’t have been the one who drove into Noel, despite what witnesses say, and despite the videos.
The father declined a request for an interview, not answering questions such as what happened to his son’s motor scooter, referring 11Alive to Clayton County police.
“I'm happy and I'm sad,” Miller said, “because I'm glad I didn't lose her because it was really close. But I know her life is going to be a lot different than it could've been like. And I feel like somebody should have to answer to that. He left her there. He just left her there.”
Noel’s family is facing out-of-pocket hospital and medical expenses not covered by their insurance, and they have set up an online fundraiser to help.
11Alive is working on finding out from Clayton County police about the status of the investigation, and whether they are about to make any arrests.