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Detroit, Clinton Township, Eastpointe, Harper Woods

March 5, 2013

Clintondale mourns loss of student killed in hit-and-run

Police follow up on leads to find driver, vehicle

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clintondale Middle School students and staff were expected to wear red and blue March 6 to remember a sixth-grader who died this past weekend after he was struck in an alleged hit-and-run crash.

Christopher Sandoval was taking out the trash March 3 when a vehicle reportedly struck him at approximately 1:30 p.m. and took off. The CMS sixth-grader, a Schools of Choice student who lived with his family on Bringard Street just south of Eight Mile Road on Detroit’s east side, died from his injuries.

Law enforcement officer Scott Sheets, with the Detroit Police Homicide unit, said the driver was traveling east on Bringard when the vehicle “left the roadway, struck the curb, and went over the grassy area between the sidewalk and the curb” hitting Sandoval.

“He struck the boy as he was taking out the trash,” Sheets said. “I believe he was run over.”

Sheets said the vehicle then turned right onto Cordell Street and then left onto Eastburn Street. According to police, a witness saw a man get out of the truck and remove a trash bin that was attached to the vehicle’s front. It is believed the trash bin became stuck after the driver hit Sandoval. Since the driver allegedly did this away from the scene of the accident, officers believe he knew he hit something or someone.

“He returned to the vehicle and fled down Eastburn toward Harper Woods,” Sheets said.

Detroit Police are looking into several leads to find the driver and vehicle. The vehicle is described as a 2000 or 2001 red Dodge Ram pick-up truck. It’s possible the truck had a snowplow attached in front and a snowblower in the bed of the truck. Police don’t believe anyone else was in the pickup at the time of the incident.

“We’re actively following up on some good tips,” Sheets said. “We’re actively looking to locate the vehicle.”

Two varying descriptions of the person behind the wheel were given. Sheets described the driver as a clean cut, white male in his ‘30s or ‘40s wearing black pants. A Crime Stoppers flier, however, described him as either a white male or light-skinned black male with a mustache.

If the driver is found, charges brought against him could be anything from leaving the scene of a fatal accident to murder two.

“It’s best to turn himself in before we obtain him,” Sheets said. “We will find him.”

Police feel the motorist knows the area of where the accident occurred based on how he allegedly fled the scene.

“The route he took is not a route normal people would take if not from the area,” Sheets said. “He lives or (must) be familiar with the area.”

Sheets arrived at the scence after the victim was taken to the hospital. He said the young boy “was technically dead on arrival” at the St. John Hospital and Medical Center on Moross in Detroit.

“I can’t comprehend hitting someone and then to keep going,” CMS Principal Ira Hamden said. “I just know he was taking out the trash when (a vehicle) hopped over the curb and hit him. It’s just horrific.”

On Monday morning — one day after the accident — Hamden informed staff and students Sandoval, 10, passed away. He first told the staff members.

“One of the things I’ve noticed, sometimes you forget about the staff,” Hamden said. “That staff has feelings they have to handle, too.”

Hamden then visited each of the sixth-grade classrooms to tell them of their classmate’s passing.

“We also did an all-school announcement,” the principal said, adding counseling was made available. “We set up a grieving room students could go to.”

Hamden has spoken to Sandoval’s parents. He said the young boy’s mother called the school to inform him what happened.

“She was pretty distraught,” Hamden said. “They’re still in shock.”

With news of Sandoval’s death, “A couple students came up and said they wanted to do something.” Since the sixth-grader’s favorite colors were red and blue, it was decided to hold a red-and-blue day Wednesday “for any student who would like to remember him.” All were encouraged to wear those colors to school.

Hamden said a staff member also made something called “memory slips.” The slip reads, “My favorite memory of Chris was….” Students and staff could fill in the blank. Hamden said once completed the memory cards will be given to Sandoval’s family.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time.

Anyone with information on the accident is asked to call the Detroit Police Fatal Squad at (313) 596-1462, or Crime Stoppers at (800) SPEAK UP. Crime Stoppers is offering a cash award up to $1,000 to help solve the case.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.