Reward offered after crash leaves young footballer with life-changing injuries
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He dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and walking in the footsteps of his Chelsea idols.
But that opportunity has been taken from 11-year-old Nathaniel Oyeleke, who was left for dead by the side of the road after a hit-and-run collision. The driver of the Audi A3 car sped off after hitting Nathaniel and, despite a police appeal, has never been found.
Now a second appeal to find the driver has been launched – with the offer of a £1,000 reward from Nathaniel’s family and with the support of BL Claims Solicitors.
It comes as Nathaniel’s life has changed forever since the crash on Good Friday afternoon. He is now no longer able to play football as he struggles to even walk and the brain damage he suffered has seriously affected his speech and learning skills.Nathaniel’s mum Matilda Leocaria, 32, who lives in East Dulwich, south London, said: “It’s been devastating.
“To see him go through all this pain, it’s been terrible. It’s been no existence at all.”
The crash happened at about 2.15pm on March 25 in Kingswood Road, Streatham Hill, not far from Nathaniel’s school. Nathaniel was walking home after having his hair cut at a local barber. It was a journey he had completed many times on his own. The driver of the light-coloured Audi hatchback, believed to be an Audi A3, did not stop after hitting Nathaniel.
A member of the public called for an ambulance after witnessing the horrific crash as Nathaniel tried to cross the road.Matilda received the call every parent dreads and made her way to Kings College Hospital, not knowing what news she might hear when she got there.
“I didn’t know whether he was going to be alive or not,” said the mum-of-one, who was 14 weeks pregnant when the accident happened. When I arrived doctors told me he had received serious brain injuries and took him away for surgery.”
Nathaniel underwent five hours of life-saving surgery and was then in an induced coma for three weeks before he woke up. He has been supported throughout the ordeal by his aunt, Olabisi Lambo.
She said: “The driver really needs to understand the impact of their reckless driving and the impact that it has had on people’s lives.
“Nathaniel’s lucky to be alive – he was on the point of death.
“They were not even going to perform the surgery because he was just lifeless after the collision.
“Then the surgeon saw his leg move a little and saw that there was still life in him.”
After months in hospital, Nathaniel was able to return home in July. Matilda said that Nathaniel is frustrated he cannot play football because his legs are now weak. He is often left in tears over what has happened to him.
Olabisi added: “His development has been taken back a few years. He’s having to learn everything all over again.
“In terms of his education, he’s not where he should be. He’s not the same child at all.”
Nathaniel’s family urged the driver to come forward or for anyone who may know the driver to tell the police.
It comes as BL Claims Solicitors is working with the family to enable them to offer a reward for information that leads to a successful criminal prosecution of the driver. Martin Usher, an Associate Solicitor at BL Claims Solicitors specialising in traumatic brain injury claims, who has been working with the family, said:
“Nathaniel and his family have been through a horrific ordeal and the effects of the crash will be felt for many years to come.
“'That is why the decision has been taken to offer a reward in order to get justice for Nathaniel.
“We hope the driver will have a conscience and come forward or people may be able to provide crucial information that will locate the driver.”
Detective Sergeant Andy Russell, who is leading the investigation for the Metropolitan police, said: “This was a very serious collision and I appeal to the wider community for their help in this investigation and for the driver to come forward.”
Matilda added: “If the driver is caught, it ensures they don’t go unpunished and they are not out there to put other lives at risk. It’s about justice.”
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