Man arrested in hit-and-run that killed Daytona Beach toddler, police say

Earnest Ponder taken into custody Saturday

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A man accused of fleeing the scene after he ran over and killed a 1-year-old boy has been taken into custody days after the alleged hit-and-run, according to the Daytona Beach Police Department.

Authorities said Earnest Ponder had been wanted since the crash Thursday that killed 22-month-old Ar'myis Ford.

Ponder was on the 400 block of North Charles Street around 9 p.m. when he reversed and hit the child, according to police.

Complex manager Jerry Sizemore said he and other witnesses tried to warn Ponder that the child was behind his vehicle.

"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.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said Ponder got out of his vehicle, saw he hit Ford, then ran.

"Unfortunately, the young child passed away as a result of this accident. It's tough. We need to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers. It's a tough time for them right now," Capri said Thursday.

Ponder was arrested Saturday morning and made his first court appearance Sunday, where his attorney told News 6 there was no intent.

"Basically, this is an obviously tragic situation, but the criminal law deals with intent, and there was no intent to do anything harmful. It happened. It was an accident."

His attorney added: "It's not only tragic for the family, but it's tragic for him and his family, as well. I think that demonstrates, plus the fact of him surrendering himself, that he feels terrible about the whole situation and will do whatever he can at this point but clearly does feel terrible."

Ponder's father spoke on his son's behalf during the session.

"Just letting you know he is a good young man. I would appreciate it if you can find it in your heart to get bond for him and we will have him in court."

Ponder is charged with leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death and driving on a suspended or revoked license.

The state asked the court to set what standard bond would be, in this case $15,000. The judge said before this morning, she was planning on setting it for much higher considering Ponder has a criminal history including a conviction in 2007 for fleeing and eluding police, which gave the judge concern.

The judge said because his family spoke on his behalf, she decided to set his bond at a total of $25,000.

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