Family begs driver who hit 6-year-old boy to come forward

Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-23 18:26:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The family of  a six-year-old boy struck by a hit-and-run driver is pleading for help from the public.

Rafaela Ortiz said she saw the driver who struck her little cousin and just kept going. [RELATED: Hit-and-run driver strikes 6-year-old boy]

Thursday evening, Ortiz said her cousin Leonardo Vitervo was playing in the street with a number of other kids at Rudd's Trailer Park off Jeff Davis Highway.

That's when she said all of the sudden a car came out of no where.

"When we ran out we found my little cousin laying on the street...full of blood,” said Ortiz.  "So, we didn't know what to do... just call the police."

Police said Leonardo was seriously injured after they say he was dragged underneath the vehicle several feet.

"Why did they run away?  They should've stopped because it was an accident," said Ortiz.

Ortiz said the family believes the suspect lives in the neighborhood.

"My uncle, when he tried to take out his car, follw the car that hit my little cousin,” said Ortiz.  "He couldn't take out the car and follow them because all of the people were there."

But Rafaela said those eyewitnesses refused to come forward and tell police what they saw.

"They tried to ask them but nobody wanted to say anything," Ortiz said. "Maybe, because they didn't want to get in trouble with the police or they just don't want to help.  But they can't be like that."

Gene Lepley, a spokesperson for Richmond Police, said investigators were looking for a red van that left the scene, but the tip didn't pan out.

"We were pursuing one area of eyewitness reports and that's proved not to be the case now," said Lepley. "We're actually resetting this investigation, starting over again...starting with a public appeal."

"All we want is for them to be responsible," said Ortiz.

Investigators said the 6-year-old boy suffered broken ribs and lacerations to the head.  But a hospital spokesperson said he is listed in fair condition.

The family said their kids will not play in the street again, because it’s just too dangerous.

If you have information that could help, call Crimestoppers at 804-780-1000.