Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Driver Recounts Finding Stricken Child Left on East St. Louis Street

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Driver Recounts Finding Stricken Child Left on East St. Louis Street

Article excerpt

EAST ST. LOUIS * Willie D. Beard was driving on State Street on Wednesday evening when the driver in front of her pulled over and hopped out.

She saw him go over to something in the road and then heard him scream: "This is a baby! This is a baby!"

She pulled over and went to help. On the ground was 11-year-old Maurice A. Richards. He wasn't moving and he wasn't breathing, as far as Beard could tell.

"I held his hands and I started praying for him," she said, and a young man knelt down beside her and began to pray, too.

"We told him to breathe," she said. "He started gasping for air. I told him that he would be OK. I told him to take small breaths."

Beard said she and the other man stayed with Maurice until police and an ambulance arrived.

"I didn't get up until a policeman asked me to get up to let the ambulance put him on the stretcher," said Beard, a grandmother of 26 and great-grandmother of 16, who also lives in East St. Louis. "I was there to pray for that little boy. When I got home, I broke down."

Maurice was taken to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, where he died about an hour later.

Police said he had been hit by a driver who fled the scene, and that several other drivers drove around him before the one in front of Beard stopped.

East St. Louis police said they had no leads in the case, and Chief Michael Hubbard sent out a plea Thursday for help. "This is a tragic event, and the culprit not only took a life of a child but affected the lives of his family, classmates and teacher," Hubbard said. "I ask that the culprit turn themselves in because it's only the right thing to do."

He urged anyone with information about the incident to call East St. Louis police at 618-482-6600 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371- 8477. A reward up to $5,000 is being offered.

Hubbard said police have no idea how long Maurice was on the ground in the rain before someone called 911 at 6:30 p. …

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