Boy hit by SUV still in hospital

Neighbors hold vigil for Juwan Fuller, 6, who was struck Thursday.

Published June 4, 2005

TAMPA - A little boy struck by a 4-ton SUV on Hillsborough Avenue Thursday continued to fight for his life Friday, as neighbors kept him in their prayers.

Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin said that Juwan Fuller, 6, was doing better, but Durkin could not be more specific about his condition. Initially, police said the boy was in "very critical condition," with internal injuries, a head injury and a broken leg.

Juwan's grandparents, with whom he lives, declined through a hospital spokesman to speak. They also asked the hospital not to release information on his condition.

On Thursday, Juwan was with his grandmother, Mavene Shields, 62, at the Eastgate Shopping Center at Hillsborough Avenue and 22nd Street, when he ran from a store. Shields called police to report him missing.

But Juwan had already been struck by a Chevrolet Suburban as he ran across six lanes of traffic. He made it through five lanes before he was hit by Bryan Jackson, 39, of Tampa.

Police said it did not appear that Jackson was at fault.

"It was just a horrible accident and the driver did not have an opportunity to avoid him," Durkin said.

As Juwan lay in St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Thursday night, one couple kept a vigil across the street from the boy's pink and green house in the 3500 block of E Knollwood Street.

"We've been praying for him all night," Debbie Gonzalez said. "We even lit a candle and prayed over it."

Gonzalez and her husband, Dennis, said Juwan's grandparents usually "watched him like a hawk." She said his grandfather, Jeff Shields, 60, always watched Juwan when he played outside.

It is unclear why Juwan was living with his grandparents, but Florida court records show Juwan's mother, Sandra Fuller, has been in and out of jail several times since 1991. In October 2004, she was arrested on charges of felony cocaine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. She pleaded guilty to the paraphernalia charges and was sentenced to time served.