By Kelli Stopczynski
WSBT TV Reporter
5:15 PM EDT, August 28, 2012
MIDDLEBURY – It's been seven weeks since a Middlebury man admitted to police he was behind the wheel of a car that hit a 17-year-old girl on her bicycle, then left the scene. But that man, 26-year-old Pasquale Rulli, still has not been arrested or charged. In fact, the Chief Investigator for the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s office said they still don’t have the report from police. Sheriff Brad Rogers said that’s because the investigation is still open.
But friends and family of the vibrant, outgoing teen police say Rulli hit are focused on her recovery.
Zion Carlstrom has a reputation for making friends easily and always making others happy.
“I want her back, like I’m ready for her to come home,” said one of Zion’s close friends, Emilee Downey.
While riding bicycles with her brother along County Road 35 in Middlebury on July 10, a car hit Zion from behind, then left the scene. She spent weeks in a medically induced coma. She was left in critical condition, suffering from severe brain, leg and arm injuries.
The day after Zion was hit, 26-year-old Pasquale Rulli turned himself in to police and admitted he was behind the wheel of the car that did it. But he still hasn't been booked into the jail and no charges filed against him.
“We are not covering up anything. We are not slacking on anything,” said Rogers.
He added investigators are still collecting evidence and building their case, but declined to say what evidence is still needed.
“It appears on the surface that particular people are involved or whatever, we want to make sure that we've checked everything out and the evidence is solid,” he said.
The sheriff would not give a timeline on the case but said it should be turned over to the prosecutor’s office soon.
A neighbor living across the street from the Carlstrom family told WSBT Zion’s mom, dad and four brothers forgave Rulli shortly after the accident.
“I know that’s her family’s big thing like when he [turned himself in], they were like, ‘We’re glad we know who it is, glad he stepped forward and took responsibility and we're gonna focus more on our daughter and our sister and we just want her to get better,’” Downey said.
Zion is currently making progress at a rehabilitation facility in Indianapolis where Downey just visited her last Sunday. She’ll likely continue her recovery there for at least another two months.
“She made me a bracelet and she was talking, communicating just amazingly. It was surprising to me because I didn't think she'd be able to communicate that well,” she said.
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