Erika Castellon-Rivera is only 11 and clearly in disbelief over the death of her 6-year-old brother on Sunday in a hit-and-run accident.
She talks calmly about watching from the curb as Anthony Santos Castellon-Rivera got hit by a van on Eastway Drive. It’s a story she has told repeatedly in the past two days: to the police, to family members and to the media that crowded in their front yard Monday.
“The man stopped, got out to look at my brother’s body, then he got in his van and drove away,” she says. “He didn’t say anything. Why would he do that? Hit an innocent boy like that and drive away?”
Funeral arrangements remained vague Monday, but the family has set up a gofundme account for donations to help pay for the service.
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Detectives are seeking help in finding the driver, who Erika says had South Carolina license plates on his white van. The driver was described as a Hispanic male in his mid-30’s with curly black hair, wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.
On Monday, police released a photograph of the van was taken from surveillance video from a nearby convenience store. It showed the vehicle had no hubcap on the back right tire and damage along the right side of the van including the front right corner.
Erika says she and her brother were walking home with their mother Sunday, after paying the family’s monthly electric bill. The three were hand-in-hand, preparing to cross Eastway Drive, when the accident happened, she said.
“A woman driver stopped to let us cross and so I can across the street to the other side. Then my brother let go of my mother’s hand and dashed after after me. That’s when he got hit by the driver, who was in another lane,” she says.
“My mother screamed and ran to my brother.”
Anthony was transported by Medic to Carolinas Medical Center and was pronounced at 1:02 p.m., police said.
Erika, a fifth grader at Briarwood Academy, wonders if the van driver was in shock when he got in his van and drove away. By then, witnesses were yelling at him, she said.
Anthony was a first grader at Briarwood Academy. Erika described him as a budding soccer player and aspiring police officer. “Every time he saw police doing their job, he had to stop and look. He loved to watch the police, even on TV,” Erika says.
Their mother was distraught and remained at an area hospital Monday, relatives said. The boy’s father, construction worker Santos Castellon, said through an interpreter that he was too upset to speak about his son. He held his head in his hands and cried as relatives came by to give condolences Monday. The mother’s name was not available Monday.
A growing memorial of stuffed bears, flowers and ribbons surrounded a utility pole at 1313 Eastway Drive, where the incident occurred. Relatives say the intersection where the incident happened – Audrey Street and Eastway Drive – is dangerous, prone to wrecks and deserves a crosswalk and flashing signal to warn drivers of foot traffic.