Shaud Wilson, 6, of Gentilly, La., was crossing the road to his school bus stop Monday morning when a motorist fatally struck him in front of his shocked mother and siblings. New Orleans police quickly launched a search for the driver and vehicle, and they located both five hours later.
Police identified Arthur Toledano as the driver of the dark gray Honda Crosstour involved in the incident and arrested him at his home, according to The Times-Picayune. Police said Toledano was booked at approximately 12:30 p.m. on charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, hit-and-run and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. He was reportedly cooperating with authorities.
Detectives and crime lab technicians were scouring his Honda for evidence that it was involved in the hit-and-run, which occurred shortly after 7 a.m. near the intersection of Paris Avenue and Lafreniere Street in Gentilly.
The victim’s 9-year-old sister Shanaya was also struck by the vehicle and left with minor injuries to her ear. Carly Gibson, the Wilsons' cousin, said the younger boy sustained a broken left leg and severe head injury, and never regained consciousness.
She told police the male driver of the car paused to look at the scene for at least a minute and sped away after another cousin rushed to lift Shaud’s limp body out of the street. About an hour later, officers reported that Shaud had succumbed to his injuries.
The boy is the sixth child who has been hit and killed near their bus stop in the current school year. Five of them were crossing the road when struck by a passing motorist, according to STN's independent research.
Gibson said the boy's mother, Heather Goeloe, escorted her four children across two lanes of Paris Avenue like she does every morning and said goodbye as the kids, aged 5 to 10, crossed the last two lanes. "It happened so fast, she didn't even see it coming, to try to stop it and pull them back. It was just that quick," she continued. "(The driver) got out of here so fast, nobody could get a plate."
Area residents shared their concerns about speeding along Paris Avenue, which is located within a residential neighborhood.
"They're going way past the speed limit and it's like they in a hurry to get to a job that's going to be there," said driver Donald Blair.
"Paris Avenue has kind of become this expressway thoroughfare, and further down Paris when you get past Mirabeau Ave, I've had a lot of complaints," noted state Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), who grew up in Gentilly.
Morrell added that Paris Avenue is often used as a short cut for drivers because there are fewer stops on the way to the Lakefront.
"It's obvious there needs to be a more updated traffic study. There needs to be a greater emphasis on whether it be actual traffic cameras or just lights," he said.
Shaud was a first-grade student at Akili Academy of New Orleans, a charter school operated by Crescent City Schools. Kacie Fuselier, CCS communications manager, told STN the district brought in grief counselors to the academy who will stay the entire week. Letters were sent home Monday to notify school families of the tragedy.
"Its been a difficult time for all of us, but we’re trying to keep going to support our students and staff the best we can," Fuselier said. "The principal and CEO, Kate Mehok, has been in touch with the family to let them know the school is here to help them. When the siblings do return to school, we will support them in any way that we can."