1-year-old killed in hit-and-run in Daytona Beach; police search for suspect

Police say suspect left on foot

By Jon Jankowski - Digital journalist, Brianna Volz - Web producer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said a 1-year-old boy is dead after a hit-and-run crash Thursday.

Capri said officers were called to the 400 block of North Charles Street around 9 p.m. after a reported hit-and-run.

Police said it appears the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Earnest Ponder, was driving a green 2005 Chrysler 300 when he backed into 22-month-old Ar'myis Ford.

Complex manager Jerry Sizemore said witnesses tried to tell Ponder that he was about to hit the boy.

"We was all yelling at him trying to get him to stop. He had the music up, the windows up and he couldn't hear them, them yelling at him. And, his mom was beating on the side of the car to get him to stop and they couldn't do it," Sizemore said.

Investigators said Ponder then got out of the car and ran from the scene.

The toddler was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

There was a 20-minute time lapse between the incident and time officers got to the scene, according to Capri.

Police shared a photo of Ponder before a press conference Thursday night.

On Friday morning, police said they had searched several apartment complexes for Ponder but had not been able to locate him. Authorities said they are in the process of obtaining an arrest warrant for Ponder on two felony counts of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and driving with a suspended license during a fatal crash.

"The guy was a pretty good guy. He really actually had a good character. Turn himself in, face the reality, get a lesser charge," Sizemore said.

Officers said Ponder is 5 feet, 9 inches to 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs between 160 and 180 pounds. He has tattoos on both arms and was wearing a white shirt, gray shorts and glasses when he ran north on Charles Street toward North Street.

Authorities believe Ponder could look slightly different than he did in the photo because he's believed to have shorter hair now. They believe he also goes by the nickname "Boss."

"He can run all he wants. We are going to catch him," Capri said.

 

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