Suspect's Sister Says He May Have Fled Because He's In The Country Illegally

WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — She was there when a hit-and-run driver killed her little girl, and on Wednesday, Yeime Coria shared her pain.

The couple arrested in connection with the deadly West New York hit-and-run appeared in court on Wednesday.

Fabian Rodriguez, 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.

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. Monday, authorities said.

Surveillance video from the scene shows a Chevy Tahoe turning left into the path of Shayla and her mother as they crossed the street, authorities said. Shayla was killed by the impact. Her mother, who was injured, was seen cradling the child.

Authorities said Rodriguez is then seen on the video getting out of the SUV, looking at the girl’s lifeless body on the ground. He then returns to the Tahoe and speeds off, authorities said.

Rodriguez’s sister said he is in the country illegally. She believes that may be why he panicked and drove away from the scene.

Coria told CBS2’s Diane Macedo she can’t forgive the man who allegedly hit and killed her daughter.

“I was walking with my daughter hand in hand, and we were crossing when the car hit me, and I separated from my daughter,” she recalled, speaking Spanish.

She said what happened next surprised her the most. Coria said the driver looked at Shayla, uttered a curse word, and immediately took off. He didn’t even apologize.

The driver, Coria said, had time to break but didn’t.

“I was in shock. I didn’t even know who to call,” she said.

Police said soon after the accident, Rodriguez’s girlfriend, Rosas-Alvarez, reported the SUV stolen in an apparent attempt to cover up the crime.

The vehicle was later found by police near the couple’s home.

“We were able to impound the car, we took them in for questioning,” said Sgt. Bruce Miller with the Hudson County Sheriff’s crash investigation unit. “After several hours, we were able to place them both under arrest.”

Javier Pichardo, Shayla’s father, broke down from the weight of his grief Tuesday, but somehow found the strength to forgive Rodriguez.

“I hold no anger towards him. I just ask him if he has a family, to step in my shoes,” he said. ” I’m heartbroken. I lost my daughter.”

Coria said knowing the suspects are in custody now won’t bring her daughter back, but the driver needs to be locked up.

AS CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, Coria said she will keep good memories of her daughter, who she called a beautiful girl that was always smiling and was happy.

Coria said memories of her daughter will give her the strength to move forward. She left the hospital Tuesday night, after being admitted a second time for her injuries as a sidewalk memorial for her daughter continued to grow.

Neighbors were relieved to know arrests were 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.”

Both Coria and her fiance said they’d like to see more crossing guards in the area so this doesn’t happen again.

Bail for Rodriguez was set at $250,000, bail for Rosas-Alvarez was set at $7,500.

Neighbors said Rodriguez has a 6-year-old son himself.

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