The family of a mother and child struck and critically injured by a hit-and-run driver Sunday night in North Philadelphia is asking the driver to surrender to police.
Rebecca Malave, 37, and her son, Armani Negron, 3, remained in separate hospitals Tuesday, she on life support, and he in critical but stable condition, said Lorraine Graulau, who is the sister and aunt of the victims.
The mother and son were struck around 8 p.m. Sunday under a bridge overpass in the 100 block of West Luzerne Street in the Franklinville section, not far from their home in the 400 block of North Sixth Street, said Capt. Mark Overwise, commanding officer of the Accident Investigation District.
Malave was walking with her son to a nearby salon to have her nails done at the time of the accident, a heartbroken Graulau said.
“Accidents happen, that’s why they’re called accidents. Just come forward so we can get some justice,” she said, addressing the driver who sped from the crash scene.
“We don’t have no animosity. We’re not angry. We’re just a family that’s hurt and broken right now and we just want you to come forward and do that right thing,” she continued. ”If you have a heart, just be compassionate. It’s a 3-year-old baby. My sister has a 1-year-old baby at home that she still needs to get home to, on top of taking care of her son.”
Overwise also appealed to the driver to come forward, and to the public to help identify the driver. He said there is no video evidence of the crash, no witnesses saw it, and no parts of the striking vehicle have been found at the scene, making the case something of mystery.
“We have very little information, so that’s why we need the public’s help,” he said. “What we need is for people who may know something or want to kind of get this off their chests, to give us a call.”
While Malave and her son fight to recover, the number of hit-and-run deaths in Philadelphia has spiked dramatically since the pandemic shutdown, Overwise said. In 2019, the year before the shutdown, 11 people were killed in hit-and-runs. Fatalities jumped to 28 in 2020, and 13 people have died so far this year, he said.
Four arrests have been made in fatal hit-and-runs this year, he said.
“Hopefully, these two victims don’t go that way. But they’re really hurt bad,” he said.
With so little to work with, Overwise asked the public to look for cars in their neighborhoods that have been damaged since Sunday, and to notify the police.
“Somebody whose car wasn’t banged up Sunday afternoon but was banged up Sunday night, may have been involved in this,” he said. “If you hit somebody, you didn’t necessarily commit a crime, but if you leave then you have committed a crime. So people should think twice before leaving the scene of a crime.”
Graulau, 44, said her sister devoted herself to her son and daughter, whose father, Orlando Negron, 37, was killed the day after Thanksgiving last year in a crime that remains unsolved.
Armani is being treated at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where he is in the intensive care unit with swelling of his brain, she said, and Malave is at Temple University Hospital, where doctors brought her back to life after she flatlined Sunday night.
“The machines have been breathing and doing everything for her ever since,” Graulau said of the sister she described as “a crazy, fun, outgoing person.”
Her nephew Armani, she said, is obsessed with Catboy from the PJ Masks cartoon series. “That’s who’s going to pull through, Catboy,” she said.