Crime analyst says investigation of hit-and-run that killed a four-year-old will be an ‘uphill climb’

News4JAX crime and safety analyst Tom Hackney said the limited details of the accused hit-and-run driver that claimed the life of a four-year-old child Saturday night will make the investigation an uphill climb.

MORE: Four-year-old killed in hit-and-run on Merrill Road, JSO looking for driver

The only description police have is a light-colored sedan with damage likely on the passenger side.

“When a four-year-old child is killed, everybody wants to pitch in,” Hackney said. “Everybody obviously sees that is a travesty, and it should not have happened. “

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said a silver SUV was heading west on Merrill Road in the right lane when a light-colored sedan changed lanes and forced the SUV off the road.

The SUV then crashed into a wooden telephone pole. Sadly, the four-year-old passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was transported to the hospital with serious injuries and the other child had non-life-threatening injuries.

“Obviously, it is an upsetting thing, but they are working to hide their actions obviously because they did not stop for the police or stop for the investigation,” Hackney said. “They are more than likely able to talk about that with someone. Someone who hears that and knows that a four-year-old child has been killed as a result of this, really needs to pick up the phone.”

That deadly hit-and-run crash marks the 16th traffic death in Duval County so far in 2024. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, hit-and-run crashes in 2023 in Florida led to 271 deaths. There were more than 104,200 hit-and-run crashes throughout the state in 2023.

Greg Driskell owns a Jacksonville-based company focused on enhancing road safety. He said that even though there’s a lot of information that needs to come out, there’s a lot that could have prevented this outcome.

“Did they have some type of warning system for blind spots? That is the worst position you could be in,” Driskell said. “It is really about being completely aware of your environment and surroundings and knowing where the vehicles are on your left and right.”

Driskell added that looking around and making sure that it’s safe before they change lanes is critical.

Anyone with information about the light-colored sedan is encouraged to contact JSO at 630-0500 or call Crimestoppers at 866-845-TIPS and you may be eligible for a cash reward. The light-colored sedan will likely have damage to the passenger’s side door(s).

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