Driver suspected in hit-and-run that killed toddler in Daytona Beach turns self in
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Daytona Beach police say the driver suspected in a hit-and-run that killed a toddler is now in custody.
Earnest Ponder, 29, turned himself in to the Volusia County Jail on Saturday morning. No other details have been made available.
Police have been searching for Ponder since Thursday night after police say he fled the fatal accident scene.
The incident happened near N. Charles Street at George W. Engram Blvd at an apartment complex. A child, 22-month-old, Ar’myis was killed.
Police Chief Craig Capri said the hit-and-run incident appears to have been an accident.
"It appears he backed up into the child, unfortunately...realized what he did and took off running. I don't know it was out of fear or under the influence of some type of substance. He fled on foot," Capri added.
Meanwhile, a memorial is growing, where family members and friends lit candles on Friday to mourn the loss of Ar’myis. The child's mother, Arelette Ford, was too distraught to talk in detail about the incident. Police say the child was run over in the parking lot where he lived.
Complex manager Jerry Sizemore says he had his door open, when it all happened.
"We was all yelling at him to get him to stop, but he had the windows up, music up, and we couldn’t hear him," Sizemore said.
He says the tot was being supervised, when a green Chrysler ran over him in the complex.
"His mom was beating on the side of the car to tell him to stop, but he didn’t do it. He scaled back to see what happened and ran. Ran out the gate here and ran down Charles Street," Sizemore added.
Ford says Ponder is a friend, and she wonders why he left.
Sizemore said, "He comes and goes. Everybody loved the guy. The guy is a good guy. He had a good character. He was a liked guy around here."
Friends of the family don’t understand why he left.
"If it’s an accident, it’s an accident. But taking off that’s just like, it’s like a slap across the face to everybody," said Mike Speaks.
Ponder has a history of drug-related felonies, according to Capri; however, he was not wanted on any drug charges. At worst, Capri said Ponder would have faced charges for driving with a suspended license. Now, because he left the scene of the crash, he faces much more serious charges.
“There’s being afraid, I get that, but there’s more to this. Why would you run from the scene, if you didn’t have something to hide?” Capri asked.
The family started a Go Fund Me account to help pay for funeral expenses. They say this little toddler, known as Peanut, will be missed.
"Pleasant all the time, always smiling, always happy, taken care of," Speaks said.