Five-year-old Donte Demetrius Payge was halfway across the six lanes of Landover Road, returning with a package of potato chips for his playmates, when he was struck by a car Monday evening.

Police said the motorist, described as a woman in her mid-60s, wearing a white uniform and driving a blue 1970 Chrysler, got out of her car and examined the child as witnesses rushed to his aid. Then the driver reportedly climbed back into her car and drove off in the westbound lane of Landover Road.

Payge, in his first week of kingergarten at Dodge Park Elementary School in Landover, was listed in critical condition yesterday at Prince George's General Hospital with a broken right leg, a fractured skull and possible brain damage.

Payge's mother Bercena, 26, who said she, her son and two daughters live with relatives in the Stafford Woods Apartments at 7302 Landover Rd., spent Monday night in the hospital waiting room.

It was the first the time the 55-pound Donte had ventured across the busy highway alone, she said, adding that he had been warned often about the dangers of crossing against traffic.

The accident occurred as Donte was returning from the Kent Village shopping center, opposite the apartment complex where the family lives.

Police said they have not identified the driver of the car and that witnesses failed to write down the license number of the vehicle.