Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Healing family to push for repeat-offender law

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SYMMES TOWNSHIP — From the thin threads between death and survival, Joshua Kostreva has emerged as one very determined kid.

        The 12-year-old Symmes Township boy was critically injured May 2 when a driver struck him while Joshua was riding his bicycle on Fields Ertel Road during rush hour.

        The driver, Mark Walters, 36, of Lebanon fled and led police on a chase for several miles. He has five prior driving-under-the-influence convictions. Joshua was thrown over a guardrail and was found about 20 feet down an embankment.

        Joshua remains at Children's Hospital Medical Center paralyzed below the waist. But he wants to again someday ride his bike, shoot hoops in the back yard and break out the roller blades. He was on the wrestling team at Sycamore Junior High.

        “All they'll (doctors) say is he has a long road,” Joshua's mother, Bonnie Kostreva, said in an interview Monday with The Cincinnati Enquirer. “He has his brain, his mind. We could have easily lost our son.” Mr. Walters, who refused a Breathalyzer test, faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted on charges of felonious assault, DUI-related aggravated vehicular assault and failure to comply.

        Today, the Kostrevas will hold a news conference at Children's Hospital. They want to urge Ohio lawmakers to strengthen sentencing for repeat offenders. “Since this happened, people have been calling so much, and our church (Hope Evangelical Free Church in Mason) and neighbors, we just want to say thank you,” Mrs. Kostreva said.

        As for Mr. Walters: “There was no need for him to be on the road again,” she said. “Mr. Walters is going to need a change of heart.”

        On Sunday, Joshua's first trip out of Children's, the family went to the Cincinnati Zoo. Joshua was in a reclining wheelchair.

        Some people stared, especially kids. But Joshua wants to go back. He couldn't get enough of the fresh air.


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