It was just after sunset Wednesday in East St. Louis. Fog crept across the city. A light rain fell on the intersection of State Street and Post Place.
Maurice Richards lived a few doors down. The 11-year-old likely had crossed this intersection on many occasions.
But this time, as the boy made his way across the roadway, a car suddenly slammed into him.
Instead of stopping to help, the car kept on driving, according to police. Perhaps worse, other drivers followed the lead, weaving around the boy as he lay on the ground dying.
It was “several minutes” before anyone stopped to help Richards, reported local television station KMOV. By then, it was too late. Richards died at a hospital shortly thereafter.
Authorities called the hit-and-run a “senseless act,” but also called out the drivers who ignored the dying boy.
“Just for the fact that they’re seeing someone lying in the street and didn’t render aid … they need to be held accountable,” East St. Louis Police Detective Jason Hicks told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We as citizens of East St. Louis need to start taking a more serious role in things that go on.”
“If you were one of the ones that saw the young man laying in the street and went around him, you know it’s not right,” Hicks added, according to KMOV.
Richards’s grandmother said they weren’t sure how long the boy lay in the street before someone finally stopped, but that it was long enough that his clothes were “drenched” from the rain.
“They said one lady was praying over him, and she asked other people to join and they wouldn’t join,” Gertrude Richards told the Post-Dispatch. “I guess they just drove by. They had to stop another car from almost hitting him.”
She told the newspaper that her grandson was a student at Gordon Bush Elementary School and enjoyed pizza as well as playing with his four sisters and brother.
“He was a happy kid. He loved to ride his bike,” she said amid tears Wednesday night. “He loved to eat. He was mostly a meat eater. He liked to eat like his daddy.”
His mother, Erica Steele, posted two photos of Richards to her Facebook page, where friends left their condolences.
Hicks said investigators had no leads as of late Wednesday night.
“We have no vehicle description, no suspects as of right now,” the detective told the Post-Dispatch.
There was also no sign that the car had tried to avoid the fatal collision.
“There weren’t any skid-marks at the scene, and we do not have any witnesses,” he told the Belleville News-Democrat. “Cars were driving around the boy. The caller who reported the hit-and-run stopped and blocked the area where the boy laid.”
Hicks asked residents to rally around Richards’s death, even if some drivers initially had ignored the boy in his moment of need.
“The citizens need to come together and try to get who did this and get justice for that young man,” Hicks told the Post-Dispatch.
The tragedy seemed to shake even the reporter covering the story for the Post-Dispatch.
“What is wrong with people?” tweeted Valerie Schremp Hahn. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?”