With one son manning a .50-caliber machine gun atop a Humvee in Iraq and another ambling through the corridors of a local high school, it seemed obvious which son the Horsley family should worry about most. But all that changed Wednesday afternoon when the off-road vehicle 17-year-old Aaron Horsley was riding was struck by a large pickup truck and dragged one block -- with Horsley still attached.


The injuries sustained during the 4:55 p.m. hit-and-run accident near Melbourne Avenue and Kimball Street were horrific. Horsley, who attends Hesperia High School, had two collapsed lungs, facial injuries, and the tops of his wrists were "completely worn down," according to his mother Marilyn Horsley. (Marilyn Horsley is a former employee of the Hesperia Star.) But the worst injury was a broken back, which required five hours of surgery. Doctors fused his spinal column from the T2 to the T9 vertebra, and following surgery the teen had no sensation in his legs.


"The doctors said they never had anybody with such severe injuries live," his mother said Thursday afternoon. "The only way he will walk again is if God intervenes."


According to witnesses, the driver of a white Chevy Silverado with an extended cab and yellow plates struck Horsley, purposely weaved his vehicle side-to-side in a futile attempt to dislodge the teen and his 450-cc off-road vehicle, and finally stopped his truck, his mother said.


"[The driver] knew exactly what he was doing. You could see [from markings on the street] he was swaying back and forth, trying to get Aaron dislodged."


With witnesses yelling, "Stop! Stop!" the driver fled.


"He looks at Aaron and then took off again," she said.


The suspect was described by witnesses as a Hispanic male with dark hair and a thin build. However, Aaron Horsley described the driver as appearing Caucasian when he awoke following surgery.


"We don't know how much he was really remembering."


With the accident occurring in a relatively remote part of Hesperia, she believes the driver probably lived in the area or was visiting a friend.


"It's off the beaten path," she said. "They'll find him."


Following the accident, Aaron Horsley was transported to Mesquite Trails Elementary School where he was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center. After the surgery he was put on a ventilator.


News of the teen's hit-and-run accident reached his older brother's military post in Iraq.


"[Chris] was out on a mission," she said.


The Army is allowing the soldier, a 2004 graduate of Hesperia High attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, to fly back to Southern California to visit his brother in the hospital.


"Chris is en route to come home."


It was difficult for the mother to describe the irony that her younger son would be hurt by a hit-and-run driver while her older son has escaped the dangers of the war in Iraq.


"It's just so surreal."


Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call the Hesperia sheriff's station at 947-1500 or the anonymous WE-TIP line at (800) 782-7463.