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Suspect in hit-and-run crash that killed 5-year-old boy is arrested after surrendering to police

Suspect in hit-and-run crash that killed 5-year-old boy is arrested after surrendering to police
Ronald O'Neal, 5, died after a hit-and-run crash in South Los Angeles. (Handout / Courtesy of KTLA-TV Channel 5)

A 19-year-old man suspected of killing a 5-year-old boy in a hit-and-run crash in South Los Angeles surrendered Wednesday to police.

Flanked by his family, Homer Watford arrived at the LAPD's 77th Street Station and told a desk officer that he drove the SUV that struck the young boy, identified as Ronald O'Neal.

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In an interview with detectives, Watford provided a statement and admitted to his role in the crash. He was booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and remains in Los Angeles County jail in lieu of $50,000 bond, according to jail records.

The deadly incident occurred Tuesday about 5:15 p.m. near 82nd Street and Towne Avenue in Florence, according to LAPD Officer Sal Ramirez.

Authorities said a dark green, faded Chevrolet Suburban from the mid-1990s was traveling westbound on 82nd Street toward Towne Avenue.

The boy ran into the street and was struck by the vehicle. Ronald was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The driver failed to stop and help the boy, authorities said.

A surveillance camera captured an image of the SUV suspected of crashing into a 5-year-old boy and fleeing the scene.
A surveillance camera captured an image of the SUV suspected of crashing into a 5-year-old boy and fleeing the scene. (KTLA-TV)

The boy's mother said he would have turned 6 in May.

"Ronald was my baby," Jaychele Turner told KTLA-TV Channel 5. "I'm just going to miss him playing the drums, playing a game, dancing."

Turner said her son may have been trying to help nab a neighbor's dog. He did not usually run into the street, she said.

Authorities said the SUV rounded a corner, then stopped after striking the boy. It drove off at a high speed. Police said the driver may have struck the boy a second time when fleeing.

Watford's 20-year-old cousin, Eric Roberts, was also in the car at the time of the crash, police said. Investigators interviewed Roberts and he provided a statement.

As of late Wednesday, Roberts had not been arrested.

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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UPDATES:

11:00 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the circumstances of the driver's arrest.

This article was originally published at 7 p.m.

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