Police have arrested a woman in connection with the hit-and-run killing of a ten-year-old Florida girl in late September.
Yaceny Berenice Rodriguez-Gonzalez died after she was struck while crossing a street to board a school bus at 6:35 a.m., said police in Fort Pierce, Fla. The authorities said shortly after the incident that the bus’s “stop stick” and flashing lights were activated — thus insinuating that the person who struck Rodriguez-Gonzalez ignored the signals.
“The driver was traveling northbound, struck the child, and fled the scene,” the local police department said on Facebook back on Sept. 23. “Yaceny Rodriguez-Gonzalez was transported to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, where she later succumbed to her injuries.”
On Friday, Fort Pierce Police Maj. Carlos Rodriguez announced that his department obtained an arrest warrant for Arianna Aleja Colon, 22, of Okeechobee. The defendant surrendered at the St. Lucie County Jail at 3:00 on Friday afternoon, Rodriguez said.
According to both the police department and local jail records, Colon is charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash involving the death of a human.
Colon appeared in court Friday in a hearing covered by West Palm Beach, Fla. CBS affiliate WPEC-TV.
“I have one,” Colon responded when the judge asked if she had an attorney. She then indicated her attorney wasn’t present for the hearing even though she claimed she asked the attorney to appear with her.
A judge set Colon’s bond at a total of $210,000. The amount is split: $10,000 is connected to the negligent vehicular homicide charge and $200,000 is for leaving the scene.
The court docket in Colon’s case is not available on a public website as of the time of this writing.
At the police press conference, Rodriguez thanked a collection of neighboring police agencies and government entities, including the St. Lucie school district, for helping with the case. He also he thanked “the community, local businesses, and media outlets for their numerous contributions and tips that assisted with the investigation.”
The alleged depravity of the driver — who is accused of striking the girl and of not stopping to see if she was okay — was not lost on law enforcement officers or on the public.
“It goes without saying that this hits very home — it hits close to home for all of us,” Rodriguez said. “There has been so much support from the whole community. Everyone at the police department has done a tremendous job.”
“It’s been quite an effort,” Rodriguez said while acknowledging lead traffic homicide investigator Shayne Stokes for acting as the lead agent on the case.
“It’s incumbent for all drivers on our roadways to drive safely,” Rodriguez implored. “Slow down. We have to all be safe for our babies.”
The victim’s favorite color was pink, WPEC-TV reported from a vigil held in honor of the girl’s memory. “She enjoyed singing and cooking, and had dreams of becoming a teacher,” the television station added.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Rodriguez-Gonzalez’s victim’s mother and a younger sibling were present when she was struck. Authorities identified the vehicle involved in the early morning collision on Sept. 23 at 4:00 that same afternoon. The alleged driver was not immediately identified at that time.
[Image of victim via the Fort Pierce, Fla. Police Dept. Image of the defendant via screengrab from WPEC-TV/courtroom feed. Images of the suspect vehicle via the same police department.]
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