Witness, mother speak out after man steals car with toddler inside, hits and kills bicyclist

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CLEVELAND — A witness and a kidnapping victim’s mother are speaking out after a man stole a car with a child inside and led police on a chase that ended in tragedy.

According to Cleveland police, the incident happened around 8:20 p.m. Friday; a man stole a car with a two-year-old child inside in the 3100 block of W. 44th St.

Police say the mother had stepped out of the vehicle. Her  daughter was inside the SUV, strapped into her car seat.

The mother told FOX 8 by phone, she told her cousin she had to use the bathroom and asked her to watch her child.

She said she had just gotten onto the porch only a few feet away, when a man suddenly got off of his bike, pushed her cousin to the ground and took off in the car with her little girl still inside.

The mother said they screamed at the man, telling him her child was still in the vehicle. She claims he said he didn’t care.

The mom got into another car and followed the suspect while talking to a dispatcher. Police spotted the stolen vehicle and started chasing it.

At West 45th and Bridge Avenue, police said the suspect, 38-year-old Eric Maldonado, struck and killed a bicyclist, 28-year-old  Devaughn Payne.  Police said Maldonado just kept going.

Sydnie Jackson witnessed police chasing Maldonado in their attempt to rescue the child.

“I saw a red SUV crash into a white car, and then he lost control and crashed head-on into a tree. I saw five police cars flying right by me,” Jackson said.

Jackson said Cleveland police did their best to try and save Payne’s life.

“I saw him getting chest compressions. They were doing that for five minutes. They did that until the ambulance arrived, from what I was seeing I didn’t see or hear him breathing at all,” Jackson said. “I would just like to say my condolences to his family, friends, and his relatives,” she added.

Somehow, the girl wasn’t hurt in the violent crash. However, a police officer was treated for an injury to his hand that happened during the arrest when Maldonado reportedly tried to run from police.

As for Maldonado, Jackson has this message: “I hope that guy gets what he deserves,” she said.

The two-year-old girl’s mother told FOX 8 News that her daughter is by her side and that the girl’s third birthday is Monday.  She also said her heart goes out to Payne’s loved ones.

Maldonado is behind bars in the Cuyahoga County Jail facing charges of robbery, kidnapping and aggravated vehicular homicide.

Continuing coverage, here.

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