A young boy just a month away from this 10th birthday was fatally hit while riding his bike to a friend’s house after school, Florida deputies said.
Andres Martinez, 9, was a fourth grader at Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary School in Fort Meade when he came home from school on Sept. 29 and wanted to go over to a friend’s house, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a news conference.
Andres got onto his bicycle and backed out of his driveway, turning to head down the road, Judd said.
As he entered the road, he was hit from behind by a red, four-door Chevrolet Silverado truck, according to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Andres’ bike was “torn in half,” Judd said, and the boy died at the scene.
The driver of the pickup truck sped away, Judd said.
“It is beyond comprehension that anyone could hit another person with their vehicle and not stop to render aid, to help, to report what happened,” Judd said in the news conference. “But that’s even a thousand times a thousand times worse when it’s a child, a little 9-year-old boy. He was doing what little boys do after school. He was going to one of his friends to play.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office shared a video of surveillance footage that captured the red truck speeding away.
This is video & photos of the suspect vehicle - a 2015-2018 red four-door Chevrolet Silverado with a hitch and tinted windows. The driver of this truck struck and killed a 9-year-old boy who was riding his bicycle east on Hutchins Road in Fort Meade. @heartlandcs is offering a… https://t.co/ezinCnadrd pic.twitter.com/S5sCcAU1St
— Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd (@PolkCoSheriff) September 30, 2023
Later that night, 45-year-old Gilbert Almaguer called the neighboring Hardee County Sheriff’s Office and told deputies he was a passenger in the truck that struck Andres, WOFL reported.
He told deputies he was riding in the truck, registered to his mother, when he thought the driver hit a mailbox or post, according to the outlet.
Only later when he saw on Facebook that a child had been hit did he tell deputies he had actually been the driver, WOFL reported.
Almaguer was taken into custody, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Almaguer was charged with felony leaving the scene of a crime involving a death, the sheriff’s office said.
In a video taken during a memorial for Andres and shared on Facebook, one of his family members said spending time with his friends and riding around was what made Andres happy.
His family member said Andres would have turned 10 in October.
Fort Meade is about 50 miles southeast of Tampa.