Suspect in hit-and-run of Phoenix 4-year-old makes first court appearance

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By Natalie Rivers By Natalie Rivers

PHOENIX – The man accused of a hit-and-run wreck involving a 4-year-old Phoenix boy earlier this week has made his first appearance before a judge.

That man has been identified as Dagoberto Gonzales.

According to Phoenix police, the little boy, who is still listed in critical condition at Phoenix Children's Hospital, was playing outside his south Phoenix home when he apparently ran into the street and was hit by a car allegedly driven by Gonzales.

The boy's babysitter was reportedly watching him at the time and rushed him to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Doctors are not sure if the child will survive.

The south Phoenix neighborhood in the area of 13th Place and Yuma Street, which is south of Buckeye Road, was shut down Wednesday afternoon as police combed the streets for evidence. Investigators also went door to door to talk to witnesses.

“Neighbors observed the vehicle coming down the street. He possibly ran a stop sign," said Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department.

Gonzales reportedly stopped only long enough for his passenger to get out of the car, a 2005 Hyundai. He then left the scene without talking to anybody.

Investigators spoke to that passenger. He identified Gonzales as the driver. Police also located the car that witnesses described.

According to police, the passenger, Ernesto Aceves, said the little boy ran into the street and there was no way Gonzales could have avoided hitting him. Aceves said he has known Gonzales for 20 years, but did not know why he fled the scene.

Gonzales, 29, was later arrested at an apartment complex near 36th Street and McDowell Road. He made his initial appearance in court early Friday morning.

According to court paperwork, Gonzales admitted to police that he was behind the wheel of the car that hit the little boy.

At this point, he has been charged with leaving the scene of an injury accident. Bond was set at  $15,000.

A status conference has been scheduled for June 24, followed by a preliminary hearing on June 28.