UPDATE: Students show support for injured classmate as they return to school.
Police arrested a driver accused of striking a New Jersey high school football player with a car and then fleeing the scene of the accident.
Zachary McDonough, 23, turned himself in to police Monday and gave a videotaped statement to investigators. He is charged with aggravated assault with an automobile, failure to report an accident and leaving the scene of an accident. While police say McDonough was the driver of the vehicle they also say he was not the owner of the car.
"He's upset. He realizes that he's hurt somebody, but didn't know what to do is what he told us," Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings said.
Police said McDonough agreed to talk with investigators when they tracked down the gray Hyundai Elantra they say he was driving when he struck 17-year-old Kyle Pszenny in Pennsville, Salem County early Sunday morning as Pszenny skateboarded. They said McDonough told them he thought he'd struck an animal, but still tried to cover up the crash by taking a tarp from a relative to hide the damaged car.
Pszenny, a Pennsville Memorial High School rising senior, was riding home from his girlfriend's house on a skateboard in the northbound lanes of Hook Road near Lee Avenue about 1:50 a.m. Sunday when he was struck, Cummings said. The hit-and-run left him in critical condition.
After the wreck, McDonough drove away, leaving the boy in the roadway, said investigators.
"All they had to do was stop. Pull over to the side of the road, realize they had hit somebody," Kristian McNiss, Pszenny's cousin, said. "Go check on the kid, call 9-1-1, medics would've been there within minutes. They could've gotten him to the hospital faster. But the kid decided to keep going."
A witness, who did not want to be identified, told NBC10 he believes the driver knew he struck someone.
"It's lit up all over there," the witness said. "As soon as they hit him they were right back on the gas and gone. I think it's terrible."
Medics rushed the teen to Christiana Hospital where he was treated in the intensive care unit with serious head injuries, said Cummings.
"Kyle went through a three to four hour surgery this morning for swelling of the brain," Cummings said. "I believe he has a broken neck, some vertebrae in his neck are broken. He has leg injuries."
His family rushed to be by his side at the hospital. Sunday afternoon, Pennsville Memorial High released an update on the teen's condition.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Car parts left on the roadway led investigators to zeroing in on an Elantra, which they expect has extensive front-end damage.
"There was a little motor there that looked like it came from a window washer inside the car," Cummings said. "When we turned the motor over there was a serial number."
McDonough allegedly told investigators he had gone out to a few bars and had some drinks prior to the crash. He is currently in custody. Police say two more men may have been inside the car during the hit-and-run and they continue to investigate.
Pszenny is a football player for Pennsville. Last season he caught 42 passes for the Eagles, according to NJ.com.
Drew Burdsall, a Pennsville football player, spoke to NBC10 about his teammate's toughness.
"He's just a tough kid," Burdsall said. "He's never scared to go in on the hit. That's just how he is. He's a fierce competitor."
Pszenny's mother, Crystal Parks, spoke to NBC10 Sunday night and thanked everyone who has supported her son.
"We'd like to thank Pennsville for their support for Kyle," she said. "We want to let you know that he's in critical condition. We ask you to respect the family with peace and give Kyle time to please heal. We thank everybody. And Kyle strong."