Teen allegedly robbed before being run over
A meeting to buy vapes in the dead of night ended in tragedy when a high school student fell under the wheels of a moving 4WD as it drove away with the allegedly stolen e-cigarettes.
Police believe the teen had arranged to meet someone outside his home in Kellyville in Sydney's northwest - on Monday night to sell them vapes.
Four males pulled up in a Holden Colorado SUV around 10pm and police believe 18-year-old Thomas Hayward jumped out armed with a knife and snatched the vapes without paying.
He allegedly got back in the car before it drove off.
Detectives now believe something occurred during that altercation which caused the alleged victim to tragically fall to the ground, into the path of the car's back wheel as it drove away.
He sustained severe skull fractures and internal bleeding. He was rushed by ambulance to Westmead Hospital where he underwent numerous surgeries on Tuesday.
His distraught parents were by his side, unsure if he would survive.
Police were told the carload of young males - aged between 18 and 20 - drove a short distance away where Hayward allegedly got out.
The other three returned to render assistance to the critically injured teen.
After an early-morning appeal by police, Hayward handed himself in at Windsor Police Station at 12pm and was charged with the offence intent to rob armed with offensive weapon.
He was denied police bail to front Penrith Local Court on Wednesday.
The other three males in the car have not been charged.
Det-Insp Laird said all avenues were open in terms of what might have caused the teenager's fall.
"There seemed to be a dispute over it, the car has driven off and the 17-year-old has gone underneath the car and has suffered serious injuries.
"This poor boy has been seriously injured and we owe it to him to pursue all lines of inquiry; we'll be open to a motor vehicle accident or something more sinister, but we don't want to rule anything out."
He said it was possible the three men who returned, including the driver, did not realise the teenager had been hit at the time they drove away.
"We've spoken to three occupants of the car and they're very shocked as to what's happened ... it's a tragic incident that's occurred essentially over nothing, the purchase of vapes."
Given the seriousness of the teen's injuries, Det-Insp Laird said help from the public and any dashcam or CCTV could be critical to establishing the facts.
"From what I'm told the young man may not be able to tell us what actually happened so we just need the community to us what happened," he said.
The family moved to Sydney in 2006 where friends said they were a wonderful fit in The Hills shire community.
"They're a good family ... he's a good kid, not rowdy or anything," neighbour Charlie Moraza said.
"His friends would come with bikes but that's about it."
Vaping - the smoking of liquid nicotine through tiny electronic devices - has boomed in popularity in recent years particularly in the youth and people trying to quit cigarettes.
It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes containing nicotine in NSW.
The Therapeutic Good Administration announced this month anyone wanting to import vapes from October 1, 2021 this year will need a prescription from a GP.