Driver in fatal south Augusta hit-and-run sought

Speeding is rampant in area, mother says
Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff's deputies look for evidence along Travis Road. Their search on Sunday was at the location where a vehicle killed 9-year-old Donovan L. Brown Jr. Saturday.

Juanita Reese sat in a lawn chair in front of her home Sunday, squinting at the cars speeding through her south Augusta neighborhood.

"See that? They fly through here like race cars," she said.

She watched dozens of cars pass, some just giving a quick flash of brake lights at the stop sign in front of her home, but one vehicle in particular was on her mind.

It is the same vehicle deputies are searching for.

About 9 p.m. Saturday, a driver fled the scene after hitting Reese's 9-year-old son, Donovan L. Brown Jr., as the boy was about to cross the street just blocks away from his James Drive home.

Donovan, a fourth-grader at Willis Foreman Elementary School, later was pronounced dead at Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center, according to Richmond County Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald.

McDonald said Donovan died of massive head injuries; he also suffered broken legs.

Deputies are still searching for the driver who struck Donovan at the corner of Travis Road and James Drive, an intersection in a neighborhood with a 40-mph speed limit and one-story houses and mobile home parks off Windsor Spring Road.

Donovan, who wanted to go to college to become an archaeologist, was walking with his 13-year-old brother, Kejuanis Reese, and a teenage friend after the boys visited the Plantation Blood haunted house several streets to the north on Wallie Drive.

Juanita Reese said the brothers were spending the weekend at their friend's house, but said she did not know they were out at night.

She said her teenage son told her that he saw Donovan begin to cross James Drive but pulled him back when he saw the vehicle driving down the road.

"Kejuanis said the car swerved to the side and hit (Donovan)," Juanita said.

McDonald said Donovan was not in the road when he was hit, but that he was in the grassy area off the road and stepped into the path of the car.

McDonald said the driver is possibly a white man who was driving a red pickup or SUV.

"For some unknown reason the driver didn't stop," he said. "You could take a million guesses as to why. He could have been drunk, no license, a habitual offender, he could be on parole, probation, you name it."

The Department of Family and Children Services was notified of the accident and will launch an investigation, McDonald said.

Donovan's body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta for an autopsy, and details of the accident were sent to the Child Fatality Review Board.

"Anytime a child gets hurt it's a full-blown investigation," McDonald said.

Donovan is not the first child killed by a vehicle in the neighborhood. In June, a driver killed a 2-year-old boy who ran into the road while his family played football in their yard on Boykin Road off James Drive.

Residents of the neighborhood say most drivers ignore the speed limit signs.

"I've watched a boy go by yesterday and could probably clocked him at 85 (mph)," said Kathie Hucks, a resident on James Drive.

Hucks said she stopped letting her Labrador retriever puppy, Bear, play in the lawn in front of her home after seeing cars whiz down her road.

Rodney Grant, who has lived on James Road for 20 years, said he can hear engines from his living room.

"It can be like a racetrack here," he said.

While Juanita Reese watched cars go by in front of her home Sunday, friends from church joined her to think about her son.

"(Donovan) was a rare sunshine," said family friend Sandra Cooper. "He was always smiling. We know God is going to bring the truth to the forefront. We know God will come through."

Want to help?

Juanita Reese asks that anyone who can contribute to her son's funeral arrangements do so by contacting Faith Outreach Christian Life Center at (706) 792-9662.