Xavier Luckey turned 6 on Wednesday, and his family and friends were throwing him a party in a park in Southeast Washington, complete with a cake topped with a toy helicopter.
About 8:30 p.m., the kindergarten student described as sensitive and friendly was crossing a street in front of the park when he was hit by a car, and killed. On Thursday, his loved ones said Xavier never got to cut the cake.
“He lights up a room every time he walks in,” said Chernelle Luckey, 25, of Chicago. “He’s that child you dream about — he was perfect.”
The boy’s death “is a tragic event not just for the family, but for the community,” said D.C. Council Member Trayon White Sr. (D Ward-8), who visited Thursday with Xavier’s family. “To lose someone like that on his birthday, we are all pretty shaken up about it.”
A witness to the 8:30 p.m. crash in the 4300 block of Livingston Road SE said that after Xavier was hit, the driver sped away and was briefly chased by relatives and bystanders. Police said the driver went to a police station in Prince George’s County and told them about the crash.
Authorities said they interviewed the driver Wednesday night; no charges have been filed, but the case remains under investigation. The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police said Xavier was in the travel lane of the 4300 block of Livingston Road SE and was hit by a northbound car at about 8:30 p.m. There is no crosswalk on that stretch of the road, which runs between a line of three-story apartment buildings and a wooded area and a stream at the southern tip of the District.
Police confirmed that Xavier was heading west — toward the park — when he was struck. A witness, Donald Jones, 57, said Thursday that he was watching the party from his apartment that overlooks Livingston Road and Oxon Run Park.
Jones said in an interview that he saw a car parked on the east side of the street and said Xavier walked from the car headed toward the park. Jones said the car that hit him was traveling fast, and moments before impact, “the boy paused, as if frozen.” Jones said Xavier was a step or two from the curb at the park: “He had almost made it to the park.”
The park is on the west side of the street opposite many apartment complexes and includes picnic tables and a fenced-in playground. The road is two-way but has no markings and no center paint line. There are no crosswalks in the area; the speed limit is 25 mph.
Xavier attended Hendley Elementary School, less than one-half mile from where he was hit.
“We’re deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our students,” the principal, Sundai Riggins, wrote in a letter to parents. “Xavier was a sensitive boy who had many friends at school. His teachers appreciated the effort he placed upon his schoolwork and his cooperative nature in working with others.”
On his birthday, Xavier went to play at an arcade where his family snapped a picture wearing a birthday top hat with a smile as wide as the brim. Afterward, his family hosted a cookout and at some point his mom and Xavier crossed the street. Then a white car came out of nowhere.
His aunt, Chernelle Luckey, said the driver initially kept driving after striking her nephew, but then the driver turned the car around — and she believes noticed that Xavier wasn’t responding — and pulled off, she said.
People followed the driver, she said. The driver later turned himself in.
Xavier’s great aunt, Lachone Simms, said the 6-year-old’s death could have been prevented if there were speed bumps along the street.
“Kids are dying out here. It’s dangerous,” said Simms, 44, of Southeast Washington as cars speed by. “If they do something about this, maybe it will make it better. Save somebody’s child since our wasn’t meant to be saved.”
Clarence Williams and Victoria St. Martin contributed to this report