A morning walk in Land O' Lakes turned deadly Wednesday when a mother and her two sons were hit by a work van, killing a 9-year-old boy.
Florida Highway Patrol investigators said Anita Pallares was walking with her young boys, Jorge and David Cruz, and their dog. As they approached the intersection of Bahia Loop and Turf Drive, they were hit by a Precision Appliance company van. Jorge was killed.
"It makes me feel sad because I have my 18-year-old son and the first thing I did was hug him," said Jose Garcia, a neighbor and friend of the victims. "They're just normal people. They work everyday. Her husband works in construction. He went to work today and then he gets the news that his family got into an accident, hit by a car."
Investigators identified John Ryals, 21, as the driver. He was not arrested and is facing a careless driving charge.
"The driver apparently did not see the pedestrians as they were walking along the side of the road, the correct side of the road," said FHP Sgt. Steve
Gaskins. "It's a simple issue of just not paying attention, didn't see them."
The accident also killed the family's dog.
A representative for the family said Pallares, 33, underwent surgery for a broken arm and leg. David Cruz, 7, was expected to be released from the hospital within 24 hours.
"It's unspeakable," said Gil Sanchez, a family attorney. "It's been really difficult to communicate with the father obviously because he's dealing with the death of his son, at the same time he's trying to make right decisions for his wife."
A post from Ryals on his Facebook page indicated he was in another accident in a company vehicle in May, but he said it wasn't his fault.
Ryals was at the scene of Wednesday's crash, but he declined to speak with the media.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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