A Florida family is grief-stricken after a 13-year-old boy was struck and killed on the same busy road where his mother died seven months ago.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, Tyler Pittard was walking along U.S. Highway 19 in Palmetto, with a family friend, 47-year-old Donald Keefer, and his aunt after a late-night fishing trip with his cousins.
The three were headed to a convenience store when they were struck by a white Chevrolet Silverado, which veered onto the shoulder of the highway, and then kept going, witnesses told the Florida Highway Patrol.
Neighbors ran to help after they heard screaming. Tyler and and Keefer were face-down in a watery ditch, authorities said. Both were dead. Tyler's aunt remains hospitalized in critical condition.
"He was with adults. He felt safe. They had him closest to the ditch," Bruce Branch, the boy's great-uncle, told WFTS-TV.
Tyler's mother, Mindy O'Neill, was riding her bike along the same road in January when she was struck and killed by a car. The driver was not charged in that crash because O'Neill's bike didn't have lights and she failed to check for oncoming traffic when crossing the highway, authorities said.
"Unbelievable," said Patricia Rolston, Tyer's great-aunt. "Not again. We lost Mindy, his mother, a couple months back in January," she told the station. "This cannot be happening again."
The driver of the Silverado contacted the state highway patrol on Sunday, saying he had heard reports of the crash and that he had hit what he thought was a deer or a cow in the same area at about the same time.
His damaged truck has been impounded and an investigation by the highway patrol is ongoing. So far, no charges have been filed.
A GoFundMe account has been established to help the boy's grandmother with funeral costs.