INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tonya Anders was looking forward to lighting birthday candles for her youngest grandchild.
Her family held a candlelight vigil instead of a party.
Eli Anders was killed by a hit-and-run driver nine days before his second birthday.
He was “the happiest baby” and often entertained himself by grabbing television remotes and running through the house, his grandmother said.
On Wednesday night, he ran into the street in front of his family’s home in the 1600 block of Nelson Avenue while playing outside with his older sister, Amalia.
Amalia ran after the rambunctious toddler and tried grabbing him.
A vehicle hit both children, killing Eli and seriously injuring Amalia, 10.
The unidentified driver fled the scene and remained at large Friday night. Police were unable to provide suspect or vehicle descriptions.
“We need help to find this person because they need to pay for what they’ve done. They should have stayed. But they [were] a coward and they left,” Tonya told News 8.
She begged the driver to come forward so her daughter Ariel, who works two jobs to provide for her six kids, “could have peace.”
Ariel said she was too distraught over her youngest child’s death to speak on camera. She made her first public statements about the tragedy on GoFundMe.
“Please pray for me and my babies,” she wrote on a page raising money for funeral expenses. “Hug your babies. Give them kisses. My sweet baby boy didn’t deserve this.”
Tonya urged strangers scrutinizing her daughter’s parenting skills on social media to withhold judgment and focus instead on sharing information about the case.
Neighbors who witnessed the crash and the immediate aftermath described the vehicle as gold, green, gray and silver. Nobody was able to provide a vehicle model or license plate number.
At least one bystander appeared to snap a photo or video of the vehicle on their phone, a witness said.
Anybody with information about the incident is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.