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Police: Injured wrestler not hit by car

Tsvetomir Petrushev

Tsvetomir Petrushev

LAWRENCEVILLE — Police now believe that the Peachtree Ridge wrestler fighting for his life over the weekend was not struck by a hit-and-run driver as originally reported, but may have fallen from a moving car while intoxicated.

Tsvetomir Petrushev was rushed to Gwinnett Medical Center at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday with life-threatening injuries, including a chipped pelvis, broken jaw and severe head trauma. Original reports said the teen was walking home from his girlfriend’s house when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver near the Norcross intersection of Williams Road and Tug Drive.

That is no longer believed to be the case, Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter announced Thursday.

“During the course of this investigation the Accident Investigation Unit has concluded that Mr. Petrushev was not struck by a vehicle,” Ritter said. “This is due to the fact that there is no physical evidence to substantiate a hit and run and the injuries sustained are inconsistent with being struck by a vehicle.”

That said, investigators do believe a vehicle was involved “somehow.” Ritter said officials now believe Petrushev — a 17-year-old junior at Peachtree Ridge and two-time state champion wrestler — may have fallen or jumped from a moving vehicle.

Investigators said the scene did not provide any evidence of the originally reported hit and run, with no broken glass or fragments of a vehicle and no paint rub-off on Petrushev’s clothes or skin. Victims in such crimes usually have traumatic chest injuries, which Petrushev did not, Ritter said.

A police officer responding to a nearby domestic call discovered the teen lying in the roadway.

According to police, Petrushev was drunk during the incident and are awaiting toxicology results to determine if he was under the influence of other drugs. He has spoken with detectives but details remain foggy. Unless someone comes forward with new information, the prospect of the case being suspended is “pretty great,” Ritter said.

Investigators do believe that Petrushev’s injuries were accidental.

“If there’s foul play it’s because someone’s not coming forward about what happened,” Ritter said.

Peachtree Ridge wrestling coach Danny Sinnott declined to comment about the police investigation, saying his focus right now “is just him getting better regardless of what happened.”

Petrushev was initially in a medically-induced coma and given a 50-50 chance of survival before coming to on Tuesday. Since then, he’s improved by leaps and bounds, now eating soup and talking through his wired jaw and taking small walks to a chair in his hospital room. According to his CaringBridge page, Petrushev was moved from Gwinnett Medical Center to another rehab facility Thursday afternoon.

“He is improving,” Sinnott said, “so it’s definitely a blessing.”