Man suspected of crashing into Independence teen charged as victim’s condition improves

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – A William Chrisman High School student remains in the hospital nearly two weeks after she was hit by a man police said was driving a stolen truck. On Tuesday, Shelley Cunningham’s condition was upgraded to fair.

Provided photo of Shelley Cunningham

Provided photo of Shelley Cunningham

“She is a little upset at times and she is having her moments where she just starts crying and asking me to hold her hand,” said Garret Hall, the victim’s boyfriend.

Ethan Watts, 24, is facing multiple charges. Police said he slammed into Cunningham’s car when she was leaving school on February 26, then left the scene of the accident.

According to court documents, just a week before the crash, Watts tried to steal a man’s car and threatened him with a gun. Court documents allege Watts approached a man at Classic Car Wash on US-24 Highway on February 17th and demanded his car keys. Then, when the victim refused it said he pulled out a gun.

Between the two incidents, Watts is facing five different charges, including attempted first degree robbery and armed criminal action.

“You are getting what you deserve and I hope you rot in that place until you cannot rot anymore,” said Hall. “He is getting what he deserves I feel.”

Cunningham was trapped inside her car after the crash and had to be cut out. She wasn’t able to speak again until Tuesday. Family members have set up a account to assist with medical bills.

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