CLEVELAND (WJW) — As cars, trucks and dirt bikes sped up and down West 50th Street on Sunday, Clevelanders dropped off flowers at a small memorial for a little girl who was killed Saturday night, when she ran between two parked vehicles on the street and was struck by a speeding car.
After hitting 5-year-old Apolina Asumani, the 17-year-old driver fled the scene.
Jennifer Ellis witnessed the horrific accident and told FOX 8, “the little girl hit the side of the car and then she rolled on the hood, after that she rolled down, and she kind of just like ran over her and took off and left. It breaks my heart because I saw it, it hurts, like I have my own two year old, you know that’s a lot to take.”
Video from a Ring camera across the street shows the dark sedan speeding northbound on West 50th, and passing a southbound car, just before the child ran into the street.
Neighbors say the cars she darted between were parked in front of her family’s home on West 50th.
“The grandmother was watching the young girl, and she’s in a wheelchair, so she was sitting on the porch, she couldn’t run after the girl,” said San Pedro Garcia.
Witnesses say a passenger in the hit and run car was so upset about what happened that she demanded that the driver stop at the scene but the driver refused. The witness later returned and told police everything she knew. The information led to the arrest of the 17-year-old driver and the recovery of the car she was driving.
“I’m glad she did that, they probably would have never known who did it, they would have gotten away with it, so I’m glad she came forward, I think her conscience got to her and she said ‘hey you’ve got to go back,’” said Ellis.
We are told Asumani and her family are refugees from Congo, and moved to Cleveland four years ago.
Through interpreter Mayele Ngemba, Apolina’s uncle, Mulumba Barabara told us, “she was a happy child, you know she loved going to day care, she was very friendly.”
He says the family is disturbed by how the fast the teen driver was going through the neighborhood, and by her conduct after hitting Asumani.
“As a family, we were very, very angry,” he said. “As a human being, a normal human being, once you strike somebody, the first thing that you’re supposed to do is stop and see if they’re okay, but for you to do such a thing, you run over them twice and then just keep going. If we were back home, we would have also done something differently, but since we are here, we’ll let the authorities take their control.”