Hit-skip suspect surrenders; 8-year-old girl recovering

Allie Jo Studer sustained serious fractures and slight hemorrhaging in the brain after a hit and run accident.

PLAIN TWP. An 8-year-old who suffered serious injuries Thursday evening after she was struck in a hit and run collision is expected to make a full recovery over several months, her father said.

Meanwhile, the alleged driver Ronald R. Dickens II, 24, turned himself into authorities Friday night.

In a text message, Stark County Sheriff George Maier wrote Dickens, who is homeless, drove a silver 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan, which deputies have impounded. He had no driver’s license, which Maier believes is at least partly the reason why he fled the accident scene.

“I would like to thank the Stark County community for quickly responding to our request for more information regarding this incident,” Maier said in a press release.

Prior to the arrest, authorities were sought the driver of a silver Dodge Caravan with rust around the rear driver’s side wheel and fading plastic bumpers. They believed he hit the girl around 6:35 p.m. Thursday in the 1400 block of Spangler Street NE.

Seth Studer, 27, said his daughter, Allie Jo Studer, who’ll be entering the third grade of Frazer Elementary in the fall, suffered three fractures to her right femur, a fracture to her left femur, a fractured right cheek and slight hemorrhaging in her brain. She immediately was transported to Mercy Medical Center, then was moved to Akron Children’s Hospital and expected to remain there through the weekend.

Parents’ nightmare

Studer said Allie’s mother, Jeniffer Vance, 27, was driving back to their home on Spangler to pick up Allie, her 10-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother. They were going to go to the North Canton Jaycees Fair by Hoover High School.

The children were hanging out by the van of Jeff Voll, the ex-boyfriend of Studer’s mom that they called “grandpa,” said Studer. The van was parked across the street from Studer’s and Vance’s home. When they saw their mother’s vehicle arrive, they ran across the street toward her.

That’s when a vehicle going westbound on Spangler hit Allie. Studer believes his daughter landed on the vehicle’s hood and broke the headlight based on the broken glass later seen at the scene. The vehicle then left without stopping.

Jeff Voll was at the scene and called 911.

“My little granddaughter just got hit by a car,” he told the sheriff’s dispatcher. “The car just took off.”

Providing assistance

A Stark Area Regional Transit Authority supervisor, Oral Ray, who was checking that a SARTA bus was making a scheduled stop, drove by within minutes after the collision.

“I noticed a young girl laying in the street with a woman over there crying,” Ray said. “Obviously, she had been hit by a car.”

After contacting SARTA dispatchers to ensure help was on the way, he said he tried to comfort the girl, who he said was still conscious, telling her not to move and holding her head still until paramedics arrived. Ray, a former Border Patrol officer who owns a driving school in Canton, said SARTA has trained him on providing first aid. He said he initially worried that she had broken her back. Fortunately, she hadn’t.

Ray said two men there told him they saw what happened and described the vehicle as an older Dodge Caravan. He said he also saw the lens from a headlamp on the street about 10 to 15 feet from where he found the girl.

“We are committed to finding the person responsible for injuring this young girl,” Sheriff George T. Maier said in a written statement before he announced the arrest. “We will pursue every lead in an effort to hold the individual accountable.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Stark County Sheriff’s Office at (330) 430-3880.

News of the arrest hit social media after 9 p.m.

“They caught the bastard!!!!!!!!!!” Vance posted on Facebook.

Frantic call

Studer said he was working in Tallmadge at the time of the incident cutting and pruning trees when his mother called him to tell him that his daughter was seriously hurt. He then got a frantic call from his girlfriend while she was in the ambulance with Allie on the way to Mercy.

He said his boss drove him to Mercy. Allie was transferred to Akron Children’s at about 8 p.m. due to its staff of surgeons who specialize in pediatric orthopedics. Vance stayed at the hospital all night and didn’t sleep. The couple have been so worried and upset, they’ve struggled to eat.

Vance posted on Facebook, “On a night that was supposed to be filled with fun and laughter at the North Canton fair, changed with a blink of my eye to the worst nightmare of my life.”

Allie’s principal at Frazer, J.R. Easterling, came by the hospital Thursday evening to check on the girl and offer support. Allie’s pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in Canton Township, Tim Brown, also paid a visit.

Studer said the doctors had expressed concern about brain swelling the first 24 hours. But as it did not materialize, they became less worried.

“She just got out of surgery about an hour or so (ago). She’s doing real good. We might be out of here by Sunday,” he said.

She will will be unable to walk for a while, and will have to have surgery in nine months to remove the pins and rods the surgeons put in to support her legs, Studer said.

“After a year, she should be herself again,” Studer said, adding that his wife will have to take a three-month leave from her job as a home health aide to care for Allie full time. “I’m a pretty chilled, calm person. ... It’s hard, it’s very hard not to be angry.”

He said Allie was conscious and talking as of Friday evening but was heavily sedated. Strangers from as far away as Mexico who’ve seen his and Vance’s public Facebook posts have commented in Spanish that they’re praying for them.

He said a neighbor may have caught an image of the vehicle on his security camera.

“My daughter keeps asking me, ‘Do they know who did it?’ ” he said hours before the arrest. “I don’t know if she can cross the street until they find the person.”

As for her siblings, “They’re very distraught. ... My 3-year-old son thought his sister was dead.”