Austen Mark Alward was killed in a Key Largo, Florida hit-and-run accident Tuesday, news sources report. The parents had reported 2-year-old Alward missing twenty minutes before his body was found lying in a nearby highway. The Florida Highway Patrol indicated that a vehicle struck the boy and left the scene. The driver, who was later stopped by a patrol cruiser, reportedly said he was unaware that he hit a child. Police are currently conducting an investigation to determine whether charges will be filed.
The incident began around 12:00 Tuesday morning, when Alward somehow managed to escape his home in Key Largo. Alward’s parents began searching for the boy after discovering he was missing but, after 30 minutes, the couple realized Alward was gone and quickly called the police. Police, FHP officers, and Customs and Border Protection troopers began searching the couple’s home and the surrounding area for the missing boy.
According to reports, the search ended when someone found Alward lying in the median of US Highway 1, near the 99-mile marker. Detectives determined that a vehicle struck the child in the southbound lanes of the highway and that the impact of the collision had thrown him into the road’s median. Paramedics rushed Alward to a nearby hospital, but, tragically, he had already died of his injuries.
Police immediately issued notice for officers to be on watch for a vehicle with damages to its front heading south on Highway 1. A FHP trooper spotted a vehicle matching that description around 1:00 that morning near the 23-mile marker of the highway. The vehicle’s driver said he might have struck something in the road around the 99-mile marker, but did not indicate whether he knew what it was.
The speed limit on US Highway 1 varies from 45 to 55 miles per hour, sources suggest. At those speeds and in dark conditions, it may have been very difficult for the driver to spot the child on the highway, especially if the boy was on the side of the road. Police are currently investigating the incident and have not yet determined whether they will file charges.
Alward was not the only South Florida child involved in a traffic accident this past week. A 6-year-old boy was sent to the hospital following a Fort Lauderdale accident on Monday, reports say. A woman left the boy unattended in an idling vehicle, and somehow the car moved and collided with a pillar. The boy sustained minor injuries in the accident. Information regarding the woman and child’s identity was not immediately available following the accident. Police are conducting an investigation to determine whether they will file charges.
Reports say the incident occurred around 12:00 Monday afternoon in a day care center’s parking lot near 14th Terrace and Sistrunk Boulevard. According to reports, the woman pulled into the parking lot and left the car running with the child still inside while she went into the center. Somehow, the car began to move and rolled into one of the parking lot’s pillars.
Paramedics took child to a nearby hospital following the accident. The boy escaped with only minor injuries. It is unclear whether the woman will face legal charges for leaving the child unattended. So far, it is unclear whether the child shifted the car out of park, if the woman simply forgot to put the vehicle into park before leaving the car, or if a malfunction may have been responsible.