Metro-East News

East St. Louis family pleads for hit-and-run driver to come forward

Maurice Richards, 11, hit by car and killed in East St. Louis

Family and friends at a memorial they've started at 37th and State Streets, site of the tragedy. After he was struck, other cars drove around his body instead of stopping to check on his well-being.
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Family and friends at a memorial they've started at 37th and State Streets, site of the tragedy. After he was struck, other cars drove around his body instead of stopping to check on his well-being.

Police are still looking for the motorist who ran over and killed an 11-year-old East St. Louis boy who was crossing the street at Post Place and State Street earlier this month.

Instead of enjoying an Easter egg hunt, family dinner and fun, Maurice Richards’ family is dealing with their loss as best they can. His mother, Erica Steele, said she knows she has to be strong for her other kids and had to make Easter as much fun as possible for them.

East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Hubbard said the investigation is ongoing.

“We are encouraging anyone that has any information to call the East St. Louis Police Department or CrimeStoppers,” he said. “I want to appeal to the driver of the vehicle to find it in his heart to turn himself in. We know it was an accident. We are praying for you to come forward.”

Steele said knowing the person who ran over her son is still out there is very unsettling, and it makes her grieving process a lot more daunting.

“I want the driver to turn himself in and give us some closure,” she said. “I want anyone who knows anything about the driver or the vehicle he was driving, to call the police. We are in a lot of pain.”

She said her son was just a child who had his whole life ahead of him. Now, though, his dream of becoming a professional basketball or football player is gone.

Maurice was going to a neighborhood store to buy some snacks when he was struck by the car.

Steele said her family’s life has changed forever. His brother, who he was very close to, is withdrawn now. Maurice was his confidant, his big brother and adviser.

“They were very close,” Steele said.

She said her son loved to go to school and always had a smile on his face. “He was a good kid,” Steele said. “This is a tragedy, and it is very devastating on me and my family.”

She said she is seeking counseling for her other children to try to help them through this difficult time.

“Everyone is taking this very hard,” Steele said.

I want the driver to turn himself in and allow the family to grieve. We want justice for him. We know this won’t bring him back. But, it will give us a peace of mind knowing that the person is behind bars. We don’t want this to happen to another child.

China Richards, Maurice’s aunt

Gertrude Richards, Maurice’s paternal grandmother, and other family members want the person who killed Maurice to turn himself in to give the family some closure.

“I want the driver to turn himself in and allow the family to grieve,” said China Richards, Maurice’s aunt. “We want justice for him. We know this won’t bring him back. But, it will give us a peace of mind knowing that the person is behind bars. We don’t want this to happen to another child.”

“It’s really hard on the other five siblings,” she added.

Maurice’s 7-year-old brother Marquis Richards is really taking it hard, China Richards said, as are his other siblings: Schireice, 10; Schanyae, 9; Shapelle, 18; and Schiraee, 17.

China Richards said the family is upset knowing that people drove around Maurice and did not call the police.

“I believe if someone had called when they initially saw him he might still be here. He might have had the chance to fight for his life,” she said. “He was left laying in the rain. The entire Richard’s family thanks the man and woman who stopped and blocked the traffic so no one else could go around him or possibly run over him. We also thank the lady who stayed with him the whole time and prayed for him. These are comforting things.”

China Richards said Maurice’s mother is still clinging to her son’s bloody tennis shoe that she got from the hospital the night of the accident — March 9.

“His mother has a different hurt than we have. The pain of losing a child is very, very difficult on a mother. I want the community to stop and think... what if it was your child? What if it was your loved one? Please, if anyone knows anything call the police and help us to locate the driver of that car that struck and killed Maurice,” China Richards said.

Over the weekend, the Richards’ family took a temporary marker to Maurice’s graveside at Sunset Gardens in Centreville.

“He will not be forgotten, and we don’t want the community to forget him,” China Richards said. “He should be here going to school and enjoying his life.”

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503

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