CLEVELAND (AP) — A driver fatally struck a 5-year-old boy walking to school before dawn Friday and drove off, police said in making an appeal for any eyewitness tips.
Israel Thornton was hit Friday around 7:15 a.m. and died at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Cleveland police said the motorist left the scene, just north of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, driving a vehicle believed to be a light-colored SUV or van. The license plate is not known.
Police appealed for any information from eyewitnesses and said they would check for clues on a nearby business camera surveillance system.
Investigators think the vehicle may have damage to the grill or below.
"The child was walking with an older child and was not in an area where a crossing guard was working," police spokeswoman Jennifer Ciaccia said in an email.
The Northeast Ohio Media Group (bit.ly/HgLeji) said the boy was a student at the Village Prep charter school.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our five-year old students at Village Prep Cliffs Campus, a Breakthrough School," a school statement said.
"The teachers and staff at Village Prep and across the Breakthrough Schools network extend our deepest sorrow and sympathy to the child's family, as well as to his fellow students and teachers."
The boy was struck along a tree-lined street in a blue-collar neighborhood located near Interstate 71 about 4 miles southwest of downtown Cleveland.
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