1-year-old dies after car hits child who wanders onto highway near Athens

ATHENS, Texas (KETK) - A 1-year-old child is dead after a tragic accident near Athens late Sunday.

According to a preliminary Department of Public Safety investigation, at 9:08 p.m. a car was traveling a tenth of a mile northwest of Athens on Highway 175 W when a small child wandered onto the south side of the road. The driver was unable to avoid hitting the child and struck the boy on the vehicle's front end.

The 1-year-old was pronounced deceased at the scene by Justice of the Peace Randy Daniel. He has been identified as Santiago Sanchez of Athens. The North 19 Fire Rescue Chief who responded to the scene, Bob Morris, said Sanchez would've been 2-years-old this September.

DPS stated the toddler made his way to the Highway from a residence just off the road. Morris said family members told him the father had just left the home to run to the store really quick.The little boy wanted to go and he chased after his dad onto the road. He said it all happened in a matter of seconds.

"It was disturbing to me this morning seeing some of the social media, people were suggesting things in my opinion that were not correct, were not true. It wasn't fair to the family," said Chief Morris. "For them to say they should've watched better. I know talking to the dad, he was kicking himself because he said 'I should've closed the gate behind me,' but that gate is steel pipe, the little boy would've crawled right through it. You know, hindsight is always so good. This is one of those things that happened so fast, so unexpectedly."  

Chief Morris added Sanchez did not suffer at all. 

The driver was identified as Vu Pham, 30, of Garland.

DPS continues to investigate the accident.

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