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Family reacts to hit-and-run arrest after teen killed in Indian River County

Posted at 4:50 AM, Mar 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-14 04:53:29-04

A Treasure Coast mother is coping with the loss of her son, who was hit and killed by a driver earlier this month in Indian River County.

Walking along 58th Avenue north of Vero Beach, the mother of the victim, Reneal Ross Johnson, found the spot.

“This is where my son laid for nine days," she said as she takes two steps in from the grass shoulder.

Desmond Johnson,19, was found last Friday by his co-workers. On Monday night, officers told Ross Johnson that 18 year-old Francisco Magana Cendejas was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

“We were all able to get to a point where we could get closure," said Ross Johnson.

Magana Cendejas went to Sebastian River High.

He first told investigators he thought he hit a hog the night of March 1, but later admitted he knew he hit a person, but did not see them when returning to the scene.

Desmond’s body was found halfway between where he worked at a McDonald's restaurant along State Road 60, and where he stayed with his grandmother.

Mentoria Ross says her grandson was finishing up his GED and getting on the right track.

“(I used to tell Desmond), 'There’s nobody here, but you, and I so I need you to be the man of the house and protect us both,'" said Ross.

“I don’t want vengeance. I just want justice," said Ross Johnson.

If the state allows her, Ross Johnson wants to plant a memorial at the place where her son took his last breath.

“Hopefully a flowering tree like an azalea, so I can always know,” said Ross Johnson.