MOUNT OLIVE, DUPLIN COUNTY - Troopers said they have charged a driver involved in a hit-and-run that killed a 1-year-old boy in Mt. Olive. In addition, the child's mother has been charged as well.
According to investigators, 49-year-old Michele Merritt, of Mt. Olive, has been charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run in the death of 1-year-old Ismael Alexander.
Ismael's mother, Delmi Aleman Garcia, 21, has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
"Each one of these are class 1 misdemeanors in North Carolina, and the maximum possible punishment will be 120 days [in jail]," said Bob Roupe, assistant district attorney. "That would depend on what kind of record, if any, the defendants had before they went into court."
Ismael, who would have turned 2 years old in August, was playing in front of his house on the 1900 block of Garner Chapel Road on May 31, when he wandered into the street, troopers said. Merritt then allegedly hit the child and left the scene.
According to investigators, Merritt said she didn't know she had hit the little boy. Merritt stopped down the road to check her car for damage, but didn't see any, troopers said.
"We don't believe that there is ever a need to rush to judge," Roupe said. "We want to make sure to see what the facts show and once we know what the facts show, then we make our decision."
Merritt is expected to be in court on Sept. 16.
Family and friends of Ismael Alexander, the toddler killed in a hit-and-run accident, are asking the person responsible to come forward.
Family members say Ismael, who would have turned two in August, was playing in front of his house on Garner Chapel Road when he wandered into the street. Other young family members witnessed the hit-and-run. They described the vehicle as a black Chrysler or Dodge with tinted windows.
Ismael's babysitter, Yosselin Vazquez, said when she found out she "broke down in tears. I couldn't help it. I couldn't believe it at first."
Members of the family's church, Sinai Baptist in Goldsboro, said when they heard of the accident they prayed for Ismael to pull through, but it was too late. "One of the ladies showed up at church saying, crying and saying that the kid was dead," said Cidronio Valdez.
Ismael's grandmother doesn't speak much English, but we were fortunate enough to have family friend Kembelyn Salinas translate for us. She said Ismael "loved it when grandma hugged him and kissed him all the time." She continued, saying if his grandmother "was ever to leave the house and he would see her, he would run to the door and say grandma come back I want to give you a kiss."
Troopers say the vehicle involved most likely has damage to the front end/headlight area. Friends of the family hope the driver comes forward on his or her own, allowing the family to find closure. "Just show up, to tell them it was him," said Valdez. "Tell it was himself that he didn't mean to. And to at least say sorry to the family for what he's done."
Troopers believe the car could have been headed west after the hit-and-run.
Anyone with information on the accident, or the whereabouts of the driver, is asked to contact Highway Patrol at (800) 334-7411.
A young child has died after being struck by a car east of Mount Olive.
Troopers said it happened at 6:15 p.m. Friday night.
A car hit the child on Garner Chapel Road east of the intersection with Bennetts Bridge Road, troopers said.
Family has identified the victim as 1-year-old Ismael Alexander.
Troopers are looking for a black Dodge or Chrysler car with damage to the front right headlight.
The car could've been heading west.
The accident is under investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call Highway Patrol at (800) 334-7411.