Second boy killed in hit-and-run in less than a week

2014-04-16T21:28:00Z 2014-04-17T11:52:12Z Second boy killed in hit-and-run in less than a weekElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

A boy was killed Wednesday in Northwest Indiana's second fatal hit-and-run crash within a week. 

Angel Villafuerte, 12, of Whiting, died from blunt force trauma at the scene of the crash, according to the Lake County coroner's office. 

Villafuerte was hit by a semitruck about 3:15 p.m. as he tried to cross Indianapolis Boulevard near 119th Street in Whiting, Indiana State Police said. The boy was pronounced dead at 4:10 p.m.

A witness told Whiting officers the semitruck involved in the crash fled north on Indianapolis Boulevard, according to a news release from Indiana State Police. A semitruck and driver were located by police not far from the scene.

The driver is considered a person of interest and was being questioned by police late Wednesday, according to the release.  

The death comes less than a week after Malik Herron, 13, of Gary, was killed Saturday in a hit-and-run crash near the intersection of Vermont Street and 49th Avenue in Gary, police said. His friend suffered nonlife-threatening injuries in the crash. 

His mother, Monik Herron, said she hopes to have a sense of justice before she buries her son Friday. 

Since that night, neighbors and friends have created a makeshift memorial for the boy. Stuffed animals and candles surround a white cross that marks the area where officials found the boy after being hit.

Lillian Edwards, who lives near the crash scene, said she saw the aftermath of the crash and helped create the cross. She said many that night were outraged and had to be calmed down.

"Everyone was hollering and screaming," Edwards said. "It was a shock to us to see the kid laying there."

Sitting somberly Tuesday in her mother's Gary home, Monik Herron said her son had spent that Saturday playing basketball in front of their house. He told her he was going to a nearby park with friends for about an hour when the crash happened. 

Herron said she doesn't know if the crash was intentional or a mistake.

"If it was a mistake, you didn't come back. You left," Herron said. "I need justice."

Herron said she moved her family less than four months ago to Gary from the East Side neighborhood in Chicago. She said her old neighborhood was plagued with shootings, and it wasn't uncommon to come across a dead body.

"(We moved) so he wouldn't get killed, but he got killed anyway," Herron said.  

Malik Herron attended Lew Wallace Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Academy and still was adjusting to life away from Chicago. 

Herron said her son loved dancing since he was a toddler. Malik Herron and his younger sister made videos imitating the popular Bop dance style. Friends called Malik Herron "Lil Kemo," who is a Chicago dancer known for his Bop YouTube videos.

She said her son wanted to become a professional basketball player or become a professional dancer.

"He was just like any other kid," she said. "He loved to dance, he (would) dance in the grocery store."

The family still was working out the details of Malik Herron's funeral for Friday, but Herron said she remained hopeful that police would make an arrest before then. 

Earlier this week Gary police found a truck that might have been the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run crash. Police have not released many details since, and have not said if they have a person of interest in the case.

Edwards and her neighbor, Josephine Holmes, said they also want an arrest made. They said cars constantly speed down 49th Avenue.

"They drive down here like it's the Indy 500," Holmes said.

A few years ago, Edwards was injured in a hit-and-run crash near Saturday's crash. She still has a scar on her leg from the crash, but the driver was never caught.

The posted speed limit for Vermont Street is 20 mph, and the posted speed limit for 49th Avenue is 30 mph though the sign was spray-painted to make it look like it is 80 mph.

Larry Jones has lived in the 4900 block of Vermont Street since the 1970s, and said he always sees children walking in the area. He also said cars constantly zoom across the neighborhood. 

On Tuesday afternoon as Jones stood outside his house, two teens walked with grocery bags down 49th Avenue. Two younger children rode their bikes through the neighborhood and stopped to take pictures of the memorial.

"It's excessive speeds," Jones said. "It was just a matter of time, something was bound to happen." 

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