Eleven-year-old Brenton Contee spent Saturday inline skating up and down the narrow, tree-lined streets of his Northwest Washington neighborhood, just like other children there do all the time.
But this time, Brenton's play clashed with what area residents say is another common pastime: teenagers racing up and down the street at highway speeds, tearing through alleys and screeching through stop signs.
Brenton was hit by a speeding mid-size car about 7 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Madison and Eighth streets, police said. The car carried the child on its hood for nearly a block before braking, throwing him into the street before speeding off, witnesses said.
Brenton was taken to Children's Hospital, where his condition was upgraded yesterday to serious from critical. Police had made no arrests in the case.
Brenton's mother, Deborah Johnson, said she was on her way to the grocery store she got a call that her son had been injured.
"The first thing he did was ask for ma," Johnson said. "He told me he was scared, and he asked me if he was going to die." She said she told Brenton that "he's a good guy. And good guys don't die like this."
Brenton's pelvis was broken, and he suffered severe abrasions on his head and back.
"He's very active and loves to play basketball, and now he can't move," said Johnson, who works for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Johnson said she hopes the driver is prosecuted for attempting to kill her son.
"There's no other way to look at it. I refuse to just let it go," she said.
Brenton's grandmother, Evelyn Contee, said she sees speeding drivers all the time in her Petworth neighborhood.
"They go too fast," Contee said. "In a residential area, you don't go no 50 or 60."
Madison Street, where the accident took place, is just a block from a neighborhood baseball field. Cars park on both sides of the narrow streets, often making it a tight squeeze for two cars to pass each other. The neighborhood is mostly well-kept rowhouses and small apartment complexes.
Fredtrelean Johnson, a nurse who has lived on Madison Street for five years, said two mid-size cars were chasing each other up the street and through the alleys shortly before the accident.
A blue car turned left from Eighth Street to Madison -- "so fast he was almost up on two wheels," said Fredtrelean Johnson, who is not related to Brenton's mother. Not far behind, a maroon car -- the car the nurse said struck Brenton -- was speeding west on Madison.
"I'm hollering, `Stop! Stop! Stop!' " said Fredtrelean Johnson, who said she was just feet away from the impact. "I was so upset I didn't know what to do. I ran in the house and called 911."
Before she got off the phone, an ambulance and police had arrived on the scene. Both cars already had sped away.
Fredtrelean Johnson said the boy was unconscious right after the accident, but soon afterward began yelling and struggling to get up.
"Every time I closed my eyes last night I saw it," she said.
Yesterday bits of yellow police tape remained on light poles and street signs on Madison Street. Near Johnson's house, orange spray paint marked the spot on the pavement where Brenton was hit. Nearly a block away, blue spray paint showed where he fell.
Brenton, a fifth-grader and the middle child of three sons, likes to draw, his grandmother said. He also loves basketball.
"For his birthday, his mother took him to a [Wizards] game," Contee said. "The players signed a basketball and he had a chance to meet them. He was excited."
Staff writer Hannah Allam contributed to this report.