Mike Fitzgerald and his wife Rieanna are thankful their son is alive.
On June 11 around 2 p.m., their eldest child of four, 11-year-old Nikolas was riding his bicycle just a block away from the family’s home in Thorold when he was knocked off his bike by a car which then drove away. The boy’s mother and father say their son was upset on the day of the collision but they only realized how close he came to being killed after Niagara Regional Police released dash-cam video of the incident on Thursday.
“Honestly, the very first thing that I thought was somebody is watching over him because if he would have been an inch and a half further back than where he was, that would have been head-on, into his body,” Fitzgerald told Global News on Friday.
The video released by police appears to show Nikolas riding in the crosswalk at the intersection of Confederation Avenue and Richmond Street near Brock University. The video goes on to show a four-door car travelling eastbound along Richmond Street, blowing a stop sign and clipping Nicholas’ bike, knocking the boy off his two-wheeler.
Nikolas stayed on his feet as he fell off the bike in the middle of the street before managing to get to the side of the road. The car can be seen driving off without even slowing down. Brake lights cannot be seen in the video.
“His initial reflexes caught him on his feet and then he stumbled forward. But just off-camera that’s where the wipeout happened. He had some scratches and scrapes on his legs but there was nothing major thankfully,” said Fitzgerald. “The speed that that car would have been going. It probably would have killed him because he’s not that big, he’s very thin.”
Fitzgerald said he’s been getting backlash on social media for allowing his son to ride a bicycle without wearing a helmet.
Fitzgerald explained his son is on the autism spectrum and suffers from Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which makes him resist wearing a helmet. Fitzgerald said the intersection is a four-way stop.
“He probably should have checked both ways before he started but at the same time, you know it’s a four-way stop, and you know that people can see you. So in the mind of an 11-year-old, he’s not really going to think, ‘Oh, somebody’s going to blow this stop sign, because in his mind, he knows what he’s doing is correct because he has the right of way at that moment,” Fitzgerald added.
Police have not identified the driver or the vehicle involved but said they are investigating. Fitzgerald said he’s grateful that police are taking the case seriously saying that he’s been in touch with them almost every day.
Nikolas’ mother Rieanna Fitzgerald told Global News she’s shocked the driver just took off, saying the least they could have done is pulled over to offer her son their phone. She said she could not believe the driver did not even stop to see if her son was ok.
Nikolas himself told Global News he was shocked the driver didn’t stop after what happened.
“I was actually very surprised because most people would have stopped,” he said Nikolas. “He literally kept going — he didn’t care about me. I think, ‘What did I ever do to you?’ I get if it was an accident but he just honked and he just kept going.”
Nikolas said he felt a lot of adrenaline in the moment.
“I was thinking to myself I could have been dead and not here right now.”
His father said it’s something Nikolas won’t soon forget.
“He’s still bothered by it. He talks about it every single day. He hasn’t dropped it but overall he’s doing ok.”
Anyone with further information is being asked to reach out to Niagara police or Crime Stoppers.