WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The mother of a 7-year-old girl who was killed by a hit-and-run driver as she was walking to school in West New York, was still in shock and mourning as she left the hospital on Tuesday.
Yeimy Pichardo’s daughter Shayla died in her arms after the two were hit by an SUV. Yeimy was in obvious pain as she left the hospital, after being admitted a second time for injuries caused by the collision.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, a couple has been accused of trying to cover up the heinous crime.
Fabian Rodriguez Calles, 33, has been charged with causing and leaving the scene of a fatal accident and 26-year-old Joanna Rosas-Alvarez has been charged with hindering apprehension, authorities said. They are being held without bail.
“We were able to impound the car, we took them in for questioning, after several hours we were able to place them both under arrest,” said Hudson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bruce Miller.
Shayla, 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. Monday, authorities said.
Surveillance video from the scene shows a Chevy Tahoe turning left into the path of Shayla and her mother, Yeimy, as they crossed the street, authorities said. Sheyla was killed by the impact. Her mother, who was injured, was seen cradling the child.
“When I came to the corner, I saw the paramedic picking up the little girl and she’s already dead,” neighbor Barbara Acosta told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris.
The video then shows the driver get out of the SUV, look at the girl’s body, get back into the vehicle and drive off, authorities said.
“The vehicle fled the scene at a high rate of speed after striking both victims,” Sgt. Miller said.
Miller said Rosas-Alvarez called Hillside Police to report her Chevy Tahoe stolen.
“The Hillside Police Department charged them with false police reports and we do know that the car was not stolen,” Miller said.
Both Rodriguez Calles and Rosas-Alvarez were arrested at their Newark home when police found the vehicle parked outside. Gladys Rodriguez, who owns the multi-family home they live in, told CBS2 that Calles is a “nice guy.”
“Worked too much every day, good person,” she said.
The girl’s father, Javier Pichardo, spoke for the first time since the death of his daughter, saying he does “not wish harm” upon the person that did this.
“If he hears this message, I hold no anger towards him. I just ask him if he has a family to step in my shoes,” Pichardo said.
Neighbors told CBS2 that Rodriguez Calles has a 6-year-old son himself.
The memorial site at the street corner where the accident happened has more than doubled in size. The tragedy will be felt in the community for quite some time.
Neighbors are relieved to know arrests have been made in connection to the case.
“He has to pay, you know, by jail or whatever,” a woman named Nancy said. “You’ve got to realize they took somebody’s life and a little girl.”
Investigators said they were able to check databases for a matching vehicle after a partial license plate could be seen on the surveillance video.
Both the alleged driver and his girlfriend are still in custody and are expected to face a judge tomorrow.