One month after a hit-and-run driver killed a North Philadelphia mother and critically injured her 3-year-old son, police on Wednesday appealed to the drivers of two cars in the area around the time of the crash to come forward and announced that the reward for tips leading to an arrest in the case has grown to $30,000.
A car struck Rebecca Malave, 37, and her son, Armani Negron, at 8 p.m. Aug. 8 as they walked under a bridge overpass in the 1200 block of West Luzerne Street, between Rising Sun Avenue and American Street, not far from their Hunting Park home.
Malave died days later. Armani remains hospitalized and is scheduled to undergo surgery at the end of the month to replace the part of his skull that was removed due to brain swelling, said Lorraine Graulau, his aunt and Malave’s sister.
During a news conference at the Police Department’s Accident Investigation District, she and her brother, Homi Malave, pledged to hand out fliers and post information on social media until the driver is arrested.
“We’re not going to stop until we get some sort of justice,” Graulau said. “We want my sister to rest in peace and for us to focus all our attention on my nephew. So this person, whoever you are, the longer you wait the worse you’re making it. … We’re not going to let nobody forget that my sister died under that overpass.”
Homi Malave had a message for the driver: “I want you to know exactly what you did to a 3-year-old boy. A kid who’s been on this earth for three years. He’s going through so much. Much more than the average person has gone through.”
At 6 p.m. Wednesday the family was scheduled to hold a vigil at the site of the crash.
Video obtained from a nearby business shows mother and son walking eastbound before going under the overpass out of camera range, said Capt. Mark Overwise. Two cars are then seen going under the overpass, a dark-colored 2011 Chrysler 300 followed by a red Toyota Camry model year 2017 to 2021, he said.
Brake lights are seen, but the accident is not.
“We want to speak to the drivers of both of those vehicles to see what they saw,” Overwise said.
The city is offering $20,000 of the reward money, while the victims’ family is offering $10,000. “That should be enough incentive for somebody who knows what happened here to come forward and tell us about it,” he said.
There have been 16 fatal hit-and-runs this year — seven of them solved and one arrest pending, the Police Department said.
Noting that cars were driving in the opposite direction on Luzerne at the time of the crash, Graulau asked those drivers to come forward if they remember anything. “Any little thing that you did see, please contact us. We don’t want to know your name, we don’t want to know anything,” she said.
“We just want to know who these people are so my sister can rest in peace and my nephew can continue to get better. My nephew is fighting for his life.”