The mum of a teenage moped rider left with life-changing injuries after a hit-and-run involving a Jeep Cherokee claims the police failed to fully investigate the smash.
Josh Kowalski, just 16 at the time, was knocked off his bike after being struck by the 4x4 which failed to stop.
Police later said they believed the Jeep to be a “pool car”, a vehicle shared by criminals until it became too ‘hot’ and was dumped.
Josh’s mum Susan told how her son, now 17, was left in a serious condition after the smash in Somerset Road, Almondbury, near the junction with Wakefield Road, on September 12, 2016. He suffered a fit as he was attended at the scene.
Despite wearing gloves both thumbs were badly broken. He suffered multiple cuts and bruises and has been left with a permanent scar on his face.
Mrs Kowalski, 51, says police failed to take statements from witnesses, and has left the family struggling to claim compensation through the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
The family, from Newsome, has now launched an official complaint against West Yorkshire Police.
Mrs Kowalski said: “I am a great supporter of the police and I know they are over-worked and under-staffed but I believe they completely dropped the ball on the day.
“It’s over 12 months ago now but at the time the accident happened – and for the first three months – my only concern was for Josh.”
Mrs Kowalski said the first thing a police officer said to her when she arrived on the scene was that it was a “hit and run.”
There were at least two other witnesses that she is aware of, a woman and a youth aged 18-20 who said he recognised the driver but was too scared to name him.
The woman said she saw the Jeep driver speed up and deliberately hit Josh. Neither witness was asked to give statements, according to Mrs Kowalski.
Josh suffered terrible injuries to his thumbs, one of which needed to be pinned. He had been into weight training and rugby but has had to give up both sports.
He was also studying electrical installation at Kirklees College’s Brunel Construction Centre in Huddersfield and had to pull out of the course as he needed plastic surgery on his hands.
Mrs Kowalski said that to claim compensation the family had to prove it was a “hit and run” but she said police had not taken witness statements at the time.
“I have asked the police why and they just said: ‘Because we didn’t.’ The police have told me they believe the Jeep was a pool car used by criminals to commit crime and dumped when it gets too ‘hot.’
“The police say they went to the registered keeper’s address but they said they had sold the car the week before, so that was as far as it went.
“The car was found dumped in Lockwood and has been crushed.”
Josh’s 50cc Peugeot Kisbee moped was written off but the family have to prove the cause of the crash was “malicious” for them to claim. The police have classed it as an “accident.”
The family now wants to hear from anyone who remembers seeing the smash to get in touch.
“I just want justice for Josh,” said Mrs Kowalski. “He’s a decent lad who was all insured and road legal. He’s 6ft tall and 17 stone but he’s still my baby.
“Unless people can help we are at the end of the road.”
A police spokesman said: “The force’s Professional Standards Department received a complaint on October 12, 2017 in relation to this matter. We are unable to comment further.”
Anyone with information should e-mail Mrs Kowalski on firstname.lastname@example.org