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Police Seek Driver in Autistic Boy's Death

Motorist tried to stop when 4-year-old ran into Whittier Boulevard, but then fled, officials say.

June 30, 2004|Cynthia Daniels | Times Staff Writer

Police searched Tuesday for the driver of a pickup that struck and killed a 4-year-old autistic boy who dashed into a street in Whittier, officials said.

The older, dark-colored Ford F-150 truck struck Christian Castillo of Anaheim at 10:18 p.m. Monday as he ran across Whittier Boulevard, police said.

"The vehicle's driver did hit the brakes," said Officer Marc Durant, spokesman for the Whittier Police Department. "But after the collision, he continued traveling westbound."

Police said the boy had been with his father and other relatives Monday night as they cleaned the family's restaurant, La Casita Olvera, at Whittier and 1st Avenue.

The father, Israel Castillo, said he left the restaurant to run around the block -- part of his training for next year's Los Angeles Marathon, with which he hoped to raise money for autism research.

Police believe that as Christian left the restaurant with relatives, he saw his father and tried to cross the street.

"He would run anywhere," Israel Castillo said. "He liked for me to follow him, like I'm trying to grab him. When he saw me running, I guess he thought I was trying to run and catch him."

Castillo said his son was lovable, "always smiling and always following me wherever I went. He was the best son you could ever ask for."

After the boy was struck, a passerby stopped and drove the father and son to Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier. Castillo was pronounced dead shortly after 11 p.m., police said.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Whittier police at (562) 945-8255.

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