WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 7-year-old child was walking to school when she was struck and killed in a hit-and-run Monday morning in New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, Shayla Pichardo, a student at P.S. 1 in West New York, was holding her mother’s hand when she was struck by a sport-utility vehicle at the intersection of 61st Street and Van Buren Place around 8:20 a.m.
The driver then got out of the SUV, looked at the girl’s body, got back into the vehicle and drove off, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“He hit the little girl, looked at her, then he decided to run, he went back in his car and ran off,” said the owner of a nearby grocery store.
The girl died at the scene. Flowers, balloons and candles were set up at the scene, just blocks from an elementary school.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, heartbroken friends were still gathering late Monday at the site of the hit-and-run. The scene was still clear in the minds of those who witnessed it.
“Her bookpack and the sweater and all the blood,” said Yanera Portero.
One woman, who brought candles to the street corner, said Shayla was her son’s classmate.
“She was in the same school as my son. My son, he know the girl,” the woman said. “It’s very sad.”
And as CBS2’s Lou Young reported, people who knew the little girl were also furious.
“Come, come show yourself – coward,” said family friend Paula Osario. “You’re a coward.”
Tears were streaming down Osario’s face late Monday as she begged the driver to come forward.
“If you have a heart, if you’re part human, please come and show yourself,” she said.
Surveillance video showed the driver of the SUV turning left as the mother and child crossed the street. When the vehicle struck, mother Yeimy Pichardo flew several yards from the impact, but Shayla vanished beneath the vehicle’s wheels.
The Chevrolet Tahoe bounced like it was rolling over a speedbump.
In the next segment of the video, the girl’s mother was bending over the child and the driver was out approaching. He saw what he had done, but went back, leaving the injured woman clutching her dead child.
“This is criminal. This is a double crime,” said neighbor Barbara Acosta.
“She just wanted to be close to her baby, so she couldn’t stop hugging her,” Osario added. “She said: ‘Wake up! Wake up!’”
Shayla’s parents are working-class immigrants. Yeimy Pichardo worked at a nail salon on Bergenline Avenue with other immigrants who were numb from the awful news.
Staffers at the nail salon said they had met Shayla before.
“She liked painting, to talk, she liked spelling,” said nail salon worker Marlya Tabarez.
Javier Pichardo is a construction laborer. He was called from his job by news of his only child’s death and his wife’s injury.
Javier Pichardo father spoke to CBS2 in Spanish.
“I can’t do anything now,” he said. “The only thing I can do is ask God to help and give me strength for my wife.”
Still in shock, he showed CBS2 a picture of his only child, now gone.
“They immigrated here about eight years ago from Mexico, and they live a very simple life,” said West New York Finance Commissioner Susan Colacurcio.
“I know the school system already has counselors helping the young kids that know about this tragedy, and we’re working with the community…. We’re going to be able to pay for the funeral,” said West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque.
Late Monday afternoon, Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari had good leads and expected an arrest.
“He can run, but he cannot hide,” Schillari said. “We have the resources, the personnel, the technology. We will find him.”
Shayla’s father said he had nothing to say to the driver who took his daughter’s life – just that he wants to see the person’s face and hear an explanation as to why.
The vehicle was described as having chrome rims, chrome running boards, tinted windows, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.