A man named "Eddie" who responded to a Craigslist ad for a car on Monday drove his own vehicle into a toddler at the seller's Phoenix home, then fled the scene, police say.
The would-be buyer, who allegedly carried the injured 16-month-old boy to his parents while saying the kid had fallen down in the driveway,
is still at large was found on Tuesday by police.
He honestly did not realize he had hit the child with his vehicle, police say. (Based on new info -- see update below).
Officer James Holmes, a Phoenix police spokesman, tells New Times the deal was informal -- no paperwork was left behind for detectives to check out. "Eddie" paid the boy's father cash for the older-model, non-working car. The father planned to fix some wiring problems and have the man come back at a future date.
The dad went inside the house for a moment "thinking the child was following him," Holmes wrote in a news release. Suddenly, he heard the boy screaming. When he dashed back out he saw the man holding his son, who had severe injuries. The man handed the boy to his father, saying the boy had fallen down in the driveway, then drove away in a tan Ford Explorer, according to Holmes.
The parents rushed the kid to the hospital, where they were told the boy's wounds were too severe for a simple fall. Cops later put two-and-two together.
"It's definitely a tragedy," Holmes says in a brief phone interview. "I hate to say this, but if he hits the child and he stays there, it's just a tragic accident."
But now, it's also a crime.
UPDATE 2 PM: Or maybe it's not a crime, after all. See the latest Phoenix police news release below:
Witness: Ortega, Eddie, Hispanic, male, 49 years of age
Good afternoon all. Phoenix Police detectives have located and identified the driver involved in the hit and run accident as Mr. Ortega. After extensive interview, detectives determined that Mr. Ortega had knowledge that the child had been hurt but had no idea his vehicle had struck the child. At this point no charges have been filed against Mr. Ortega.
The investigation continues.
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I have no further information as to the condition of the victim at this time.
Thanks for your attention and assistance.
Officer James Holmes Phoenix Police Department