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Family: Pickup driver pleaded with assailants for mercy

DETROIT — The children of a man attacked after his pickup struck a 10-year-old boy said Friday that Steve Utash pleaded with his attackers, repeatedly telling them he was sorry as they beat him unconscious on an east-side Detroit street earlier this week.

“To have that happen to you, I can’t even imagine,” said daughter Mandi Emerick at a news briefing Friday. “They beat him for a little while and let him go and then came back. I don’t understand the aggression or why they were so angry at him.”

While Utash was being beaten, someone from that group stole his belongings from his truck—including his phone and wallet, according to daughter Felicia Utash.

“We want justice,” his son Joe Utash said. “What if that was your dad?”

Police said Utash, 54, a tree trimmer from Roseville, Mich., was attacked on Wednesday by a group of men after he stopped to aid the boy, who had stepped into traffic and was hit by Utash’s pickup. The boy, David Harris, is recovering from his injuries at a Detroit hospital.

Utash remains hospitalized in critical condition at St. John Hospital and Medical Center with multiple head injuries. Police continue to investigate, but no arrests have been made.

In a statement Friday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones decried the “senseless vigilante style attack” and called for witnesses to come forward. On social media, Duggan stressed peace.

“This week a group of young men showed who they were when they beat Steve Utash. Let us show who we are in our response. #calm #compassion,” the mayor tweeted from his Twitter account Friday afternoon.

Utash’s children said they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community, including donations of thousands of dollars via a Go Fund Me webpage to help pay for their father’s medical bills. They remain at his bedside, hoping he awakens from his medically induced coma.

Joe Utash said his shy and kind-spirited father has driven that Detroit street nearly every day for the past 17 years.

“He’s never been in any trouble his entire life,” Joe Utash said. “He always helped everyone in need. They said he was saying, ‘Sorry, sorry.’ Why would you do that to him? He stopped. He tried to help. To see him be surrounded by all of those people and to see all those people coming after him, it’s completely unfair.”

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