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Parents of 4-year-old boy injured in hit-and-run crash ask driver to come forward

Police continue to look for light-colored 4-door sedan
Posted at 12:33 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 18:17:04-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The father and mother of a 4-year-old boy who was critically injured Sunday night in a hit-and-run crash in downtown West Palm Beach made a passionate plea Wednesday.

The child's parents, Joshua and Haley, asked the driver who hit their son to come forward.

"I'm here today to appeal to the driver of the car that hit our son to please now do the right thing and come forward," Haley said. "Perhaps you just panicked at the time. ... But now the dust has had time to settle, and you have probably heard the story somewhere on the news or someone talking about it. Perhaps and you must be walking around with the guilt of what you did burning inside of you and it is time to change that."

Joshua and Haley, parents of a 4-year-old boy injured in a hit-and-run crash in West Palm Beach, held a news conference on Dec. 15, 2021
Joshua and Haley, the parents of a 4-year-old boy injured in a hit-and-run crash in West Palm Beach, held a news conference on Dec. 15, 2021.

The family, who reside in northern Palm Beach County, said their son suffered "life-changing injuries" from the crash.

Police said Tuesday that the boy, whose name has not been released, remains hospitalized after two surgeries Monday.

Investigators said the child was with his father and three other children, attempting to cross the eastbound lanes of Okeechobee Boulevard near Rosemary Avenue when he was hit by an unidentified driver.

West Palm Beach Police spokesman Mike Jachles said they continue to look for the driver of a light-colored four-door sedan that left the scene.

Traffic Homicide Investigator James Ingrassia said Wednesday that they don't know if the driver had a yellow light or it had just turned red.

West Palm Beach hit-and-run crash on Okeechobee Boulevard
Police investigate a hit-and-run crash involving a 5-year-old child Dec. 12, 2021, in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla.

Jachles said Tuesday they believe the car is either white, gray or silver.

The child's family said the incident has also been traumatic for the boy's three brothers who witnessed the crash.

"I am begging you to please come forward and show some mercy towards this little boy and for us, his family, by coming forward," the boy's mother said Wednesday.

West Palm Beach police said they will be stepping up enforcement on the stretch of Okeechobee Boulevard where the child was hit.

A pedestrian bridge has been discussed for that intersection for years, but currently, there is no proposal from the city or Florida Department of Transportation to construct one.

West Palm Beach Police Chief Frank Adderley, Dec. 15, 2021
West Palm Beach Police Chief Frank Adderley says officers will increase enforcement at the intersection where the child was hit.

A statement released by the city of West Palm Beach said "while a pedestrian bridge was discussed during a previous administration years ago, it was not actively pursued."

The Florida Department of Transportation, which manages and operates Okeechobee Boulevard, said there is a resurfacing project to begin construction in the summer of 2024.

It will upgrade pedestrian signals at the Rosemary Avenue intersection, as well as signage and pavement markings, but there is no proposed pedestrian bridge.

West Palm Beach police said they will be stepping up enforcement on the stretch of Okeechobee Boulevard where the child was hit.

"We're doing everything that we can to reduce incidents like this, and we feel that we can do that through enforcement," Police Chief Frank Adderley said.

FDOT also said that the intersection is being reviewed for ADA compliance and will be upgraded to meet those requirements.

Anyone who can help in the case is encouraged to call Ingrassia at 561-822-1627 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.