FORT MEADE, Fla. (WFLA) — Marisol Martinez and her family were not expecting the outpouring of love they have received over the past three days.
“Some of his teachers came by to show respect for him. It’s just, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of little memories of him,” said Marisol.
Martinez’s younger brother, Andres Martinez, 9, loved cars, school and riding his bike.
“He was constantly on his bike like, he would go next door or couple houses down. That was his go-to,” she said.
In fact, she said, a couple years ago, Martinez was hit by a car while riding his bike.
That driver stopped to help.
“We thought he was going to be traumatized from that incident but for his 8th, 9th birthday, he was asking us for a bike. So, we got him another one,” she said.
On Friday evening, the fourth grader was leaving his driveway on Hutchins Road in Fort Meade when he was hit by a red Chevrolet Silverado.
The driver, the sheriff said, did not stop to help.
Martinez was thrown 50 feet away and died at the scene, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s some deranged person that fled from this dying little boy who was thrown into the neighbor’s yard,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd at a news conference Friday night. “That person fled and is hiding like the coward he is.”
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Gilbert Almaguer, 45, of Bowling Green, contacted the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office after he learned Martinez died through a post on Facebook.
When detectives interviewed Almaguer, he initially told them he was the passenger in the truck, but later admitted to being the driver and said nobody else was in the vehicle.
The red Chevrolet Silverado was in his backyard.
Almaguer said he was “sorry and just got scared,” according to the arrest affidavit.
“He explained that the kid came out of nowhere and he did not mean to hit him,” the affidavit said.
“He turned himself in. A lot of people would try to avoid that situation, so that’s a big thing for us,” said Marisol.
Martinez said her younger brother would not want them to feel hate toward Almaguer.
“He was that kind of person that was really forgiving and for us to move forward with it, we can’t hate anybody. There’s no point in it,” she said.
Martinez also urged people not to make negative comments to Almaguer’s family.
“They don’t deserve it. They weren’t the ones that decided for him. He decided what he wanted to do,” said Martinez.
Almaguer is awaiting transport to Polk County and is facing a charge of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death.
Meanwhile, the Martinez family has a growing memorial to Andres in their front yard and still plans to celebrate his 10th birthday later this month.
“We’re still going to celebrate him but it won’t be the same,” said Marisol Martinez.