Latest: 10:34 pm, 4/11/17, Tuesday
RANTOUL — Triston Smith’s family says they’re worried the driver charged with hitting him will take off again.
After more than a year on the run, Juan Miguel-Juan was arrested Monday night. Prosecutors say he was driving drunk when he hit Smith back in 2015.
In court on Tuesday, his bond was set at $300,000. He’d managed to escape authorities since October 2015– the last time he was supposed to be in court. The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office says immigration officers picked him up in Alabama back in March. Prosecutors say he’s in the country illegally, and is a flight risk.
Like riding a bicycle, Triston Smith is back on his feet, learning to live like a normal teenager.
“Being able to do stuff like I used to be able to do,” says Smith.
Though he’s not afraid to pedal after his plight., he is afraid the man accused of hurting him will get the chance to do it to someone else. “It destroyed our family when he did that,” says Smith.
“I couldn’t tell who the child was for all the blood,” says Stewart, “You never forget that. Every night you replay that in your head.”
Prosecutors say Juan-Miguel Juan was driving drunk. Smith was crossing this road on his bike.
He doesn’t remember that. He does remember healing from several broken bones and internal bleeding.
His guardian Freda Stewart remembers when Miguel-Juan was arrested, then paid his bond and took off.
She will remember when he was walked into the courtroom 18 months later.
“It’s just unthinkable that someone can hit a child at 3:00 in the afternoon, drunk, and not even know they hit anything,” says Stewart.
For Stewart, it was a good moment. Then she learned Miguel-Juan would again have the option to bail out.
“A crime he committed, and we’re paying for him to have legal representation and an interpreter. So if we’re paying for that, but he can get out on bond for 30-thousand dollars, there’s a real problem with the judicial system.”
“I just hope he gets taken off the streets to he doesn’t cause any more damage than he already has,” says Smith.
Prosecutors originally requested a $500,000 bond. They say they arrived at that number after considering several factors in Miguel-Juan’s case, including his charges, past no-show at court, immigration status, and deportation history.
Stewart says he still hasn’t fully recovered from the crash. Besides not being able to play team sports, she says smith struggles with memory loss, and although he can ride his bike again, he doesn’t go near the road where he was hit.
Update: 4:15 pm, 4/11/17, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — More than a year after her son was hit by a car and left for dead, the man charged with the crime made an appearance in court.
After more than a year on the run, Juan Miguel-Juan was arrested and read his charges. Prosecutors say he was drunk when he hit 12-year old Triston Smith in September 2015.
Triston suffered internal bleeding and several broken bones. Authorities say Miguel-Juan has been in the country illegally and has been deported before.
He failed to show up for his first court appearance in October 2015. The sheriff’s office says Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found him in Alabama a couple weeks ago.
It’s all added up to an emotional 24-hours for Triston’s mom, Freda Stewart. She was in court Tuesday to watch Miguel-Juan’s arraignment.
She remembers the day in 2015, when he paid $2,500, bonded out of jail and took off. Now, Miguel-Juan’s bond is set at $300,000. He’d have to spend $30,000 to get out of jail this time.
Stewart says that still not enough. In court, Judge Brett Olmstead says he set Miguel-Juan’s bond higher this time because he’s a flight risk. Miguel-Juan is due back in court next month.
Original: 10:15 pm, 4/10/17, Monday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — A man charged with hitting a 12-year old boy while driving drunk has been arrested after more than a year on the run.
Juan Miguel-Juan was booked Monday evening. He’s accused of hitting Triston Smith, in Rantoul, in September 2015.
After bailing out of jail, Miguel-Juan was supposed to appear in court October 7, 2015, but he didn’t show up. A warrant was issued for his arrest. Smith’s family said he shouldn’t have been able to bond out in the first place.
Smith was riding his bike when it happened. After the crash, he was airlifted to the Children’s Hospital, in Peoria. The crash left him with several broken bones and he couldn’t move the right side of his face.
Miguel-Juan’s bond was set at $150,000. He’s scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 pm, Tuesday, April 11. Smith’s family says they plan to be in court.