TAMPA — Though the theories have changed about why and how, two facts remain the same: A 4-year-old boy died after being struck by a vehicle on North Florida Avenue on Sunday night, and the driver did not stop.
Initially, detectives worked under the theory that the child, Marterrance Albury, fell or was thrown from a moving vehicle, but evidence has emerged that disputes that version of what happened just before 10 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Florida and 109th avenues.
Tampa police detectives on Tuesday reviewed and released a second surveillance video that they say shows what appears to be the silhouette of the child walking along the street just before Marterrance was struck. The video contradicts the initial theory that the child was tossed or fell from a moving car, a scenario that drew widespread news coverage.
That theory was based on a witness' account, police said.
That witness told police the child appeared to have fallen out of a moving vehicle. The vehicle, a dark green or possibly black 2000-2004 Ford Expedition, fled the scene.
Detectives could not explain how the child got into the vehicle. They were told by the boy's 17-year-old brother, who was babysitting Marterrance on Sunday night, that the preschooler was missing from the family's nearby apartment. Interviewing the older brother proved difficult, police said, because he has mental disabilities.
The second surveillance video shows what detectives believe is the silhouette of the child walking along the road.
“While the video does not definitively show Marterrance Albury, it does depict a small child running on the sidewalk and into the roadway,” said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. The vehicle “continues traveling southbound without stopping. It is not clear if the driver committed a crime or if this is a tragic accident. The driver is urged to contact the Tampa Police Department.”
The video changed detectives' minds. Now, they believe the child may have wandered from his apartment and into the road, where he was struck.
“It's still wide open,” said McElroy. “When a witnesses sees a child in midair, soaring through the air, it's a traumatic event. They believed they saw the child falling out of the vehicle.”
But physical evidence, which includes the video and an autopsy report that details the injuries, changed the scenario, she said.
On Tuesday morning, police said they are no closer to finding the driver of the vehicle and again appealed to the public for help.
The video does not provide 100 percent certainty of how the boy ended up in the road, McElroy said. But, she said, “Based on the injuries to the child, the physical evidence at the scene, the witness statements and different camera angles, it appears the child was the victim of a hit-and-run or a traffic crash. It is possible that the driver did not realize the child was hit.”
Detectives have gotten several calls and were following up on leads, she said. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers 1-800-873-8477 (TIPS) or the Tampa Police Department at (813) 231-6130.