WHITING | Strangers and friends stopped by a memorial Thursday afternoon to pay their respects for a 12-year-old boy killed in a hit-and run crash.
Flowers, stuffed animals, balloons and religious candles surrounded a utility pole wrapped with messages and doodles for the boy. Parents and teens gathered around the memorial to share news about the case, and their memories of him.
"I didn't know you but you seemed like a good kid I'll pray for u every night," one message read. Another was left by the boy's sister, telling him that she'll miss him.
Angel Villafuerte, of the 1200 block of Euclid Avenue, was struck and killed at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in the 1900 block of Indianapolis Boulevard, the Lake County coroner's office and Indiana State Police said.
Villafuerte was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:10 p.m. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma suffered in a motor vehicle accident.
The investigation into the hit-and-run continued Thursday as Indiana State Police reviewed surveillance video from area businesses.
Indiana State Police said the child was struck and killed by a semi as he attempted to cross Indianapolis Boulevard at 119th Street.
Witnesses told police the semi fled the scene northbound. Whiting police officers stopped the semi a few miles away from the scene.
Indiana State Police took the driver into custody and questioned him Wednesday night. Police said they released the driver without charges early Thursday.
The semi remained impounded Thursday as officers with the state Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division continued their inspection of the vehicle, police said.
The boy's mother, Araceli Villafuerte, said the family still doesn't have many answers as to what happened. The family moved to Whiting from Chicago in November, and since then Angel Villafuerte had walked a similar route home as he did Wednesday.
Her oldest son, Michael Calzada Jr., 16, was with Angel Villafuerte when the crash happened. She said the family has been reassuring him that it wasn't his fault.
"It happened so fast," Araceli Villafuerte said. "He can't get the picture out of his mind."
Angel Villafuerte was a fifth-grader at Nathan Hale Elementary School. He had quickly made friends at his new school and neighborhood. He liked playing everything from soccer to basketball.
Villafuerte said her son's favorite superhero was Spiderman, but he didn't tell his friends that because he didn't want them to think of him as a little kid.
While her two teenage children kept to themselves, Villafuerte said she and Angel Villafuerte would sit down together to watch television shows.
"He was such a giver, always gave whatever he had," she said. "He was very kind."
Angel Villafuerte is survived by his stepfather, Armando Colunga, his brother, Michael Calzada Jr., and his 15-year-old sister, Ariana Calzada. The family is still finalizing funeral arrangements.