A 21-year-old man who was the victim of a hit-and-run in Brampton last month says that his life has been “changed forever” by traumatic injuries that have left his body held together by screws and metal rods, almost like a “broken toy.”

In an emotional appeal from a hospital bed that was wheeled into Peel Regional Police headquarters on Thursday morning, Navindra Sookramsingh said that he has forgiven the driver who left him for dead in the early hours of March 17 but wants them to take responsibility for what they did to him.

“I wanted to be here because I wanted to ask the driver to have mercy. I am 21 years old and I had a life of love. I was always there for everyone and I just wanted to do what most people wanted – to work and just have the best life I could. Now I can’t walk and I don’t know if I will be able to walk again. I can’t move my hands, I can’t talk and I can’t enjoy a life where as a man I feel less than everyone else,” he said in a direct plea to the driver. “Do you know what that feels like? I am not mad at you for hitting me because people do have accidents and I don’t want to see you get into any trouble. I just want you to be responsible for what you did to me, for the changes you made to my life. It is going to be changed forever.”

Sookramsingh had driven to a St. Patrick’s Day party in Brampton but decided to walk home after having a few drinks.

Police say that he then became ill and collapsed in a southbound curb lane on West Drive near Clark Drive at around 4:30 a.m. on March 17.

Police say that a vehicle had to swerve to avoid hitting Sookramsingh. The driver of that vehicle then turned around and was encouraging Sookramsingh to get off the road when he observed another southbound vehicle headed his way.

The driver flashed his high beams to get that vehicle to stop but it kept going and struck Sookramsingh while he was “in the process of trying to stand up,” according to police. The vehicle then stopped momentarily before fleeing the scene.

“It is possible that the driver was unaware that there was a pedestrian in the road as he approached the scene,” Staff Sgt. Gary Carty told reporters during Thursday’s news conference. “While we recognize that fear is probably the primary motivator for causing you to leave we need your help. You know that this has happened and now you see what has occurred as a result of your actions.”

Victim has no memory of collision

On Thursday, Sookramsingh told reporters that his last memory is from a week prior to the collision and that he tries to avoid thinking back to that morning.

He said that the impact of the collision caused his pelvis to break into three pieces and his hip to shatter into 26 pieces.

Doctors have since used a 10-inch bolt to piece together his pelvis and an eight-inch titanium road to rebuild his left hip but it remains uncertain whether he will walk again.

“It is not easy what I am going through mentally. I sit in the hospital every day, I can’t get out of bed at night. It is worse because I am sitting alone. I am suffering from insomnia. I am seeing flashes and shadows and the kickbacks of partial memory,” Sookramsingh said. “I am crying and I am suffering and I am scared and I am depressed because I think about the things that I could have done that I can now merely dream of doing. Things like picking up a cup or talking and laughing like I used to, even breathing like I used to.’”

Sookramsingh said that he can “breathe but not deeply” because of a hole in his lung from the collision.

He said that he also can’t feel his feet, though he can move them.

Doctors have told Sookramsingh that his recovery could take at least two years but they have also cautioned him against expecting that things will ever be the same, he said.

“It hurts because I don’t feel like I am a part of my family anymore because I am just alone in my little hospital room with visitors,” he said, noting that he can no longer pick his eight-year-old sister up from school or help her with her homework. “When they are all gone I am all alone.”

Police release image of vehicle

The suspect vehicle in the hit-and-run has been described as a 2003-2007 Toyota Corolla with minor front-end damage.

On Thursday, police released an image of the suspect vehicle taken from surveillance camera footage but Carty said that the video does not show any part of the vehicle’s licence plate.

He said that investigators have done a Ministry of Transportation database search for similar vehicles but have found “thousands and thousands” registered in Brampton alone.

“It is kind of akin to looking for a needle in a pile of needles and that is why we need the public’s assistance,” he said. “Somebody has seen this vehicle. One of your neighbours has come home with a car with some very minor front-end damage. It may be related to this. You may hold the key to solving this collision.”

A Go Fund Me has been set up to solicit donations to help cover some of Sookramsingh’s medical bills, which he said that his mother is unable to cover on her own.

The page had raised about $4,500 prior to Thursday’s news conference but the total amount of donations jumped significantly in the hours following it.

As of 1 p.m. about $23,000 had been raised, including $10,000 from one anonymous donor.