MAYPORT, Fla. – Days after a 12-year-old boy was hit and killed by an SUV while walking to school, News4Jax spoke to his heartbroken mother and learned that alcohol might have been a factor in the deadly crash.
Police said Hunter Cope was struck at the intersection of Wonderwood Connector and A1A while walking to Mayport Middle School.
According to police, the vehicle continued through a yellow light at the intersection about 8:30 a.m., hitting Cope, who was walking with five other children.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office detectives are still investigating and haven’t charged the driver of the SUV that hit Hunter. But the crash report, which News4Jax obtained Friday, said Hunter was in the crosswalk and that officers believe the driver, 37-year-old Kelley Permenter, was under the influence of alcohol.
Investigators are waiting for blood test results to come back on Permenter, who remained at the scene after the crash. News4Jax found she has 10 traffic citations on her record, including five for speeding.
“Right now, what all the evidence and facts are showing is that this was a sudden, traumatic and avoidable loss of a child,” said attorney Daniel Iracki, who is representing Hunter's family.
Hunter’s family members are asking anyone who may have seen the crash, or anything suspicious before it, to come forward and let the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office know.
Hunter’s family has hired attorneys to help find out more about what happened.
“Any information that anyone has about Hunter's death should definitely come forward, because that's going to help the investigation,” attorney Janeen Kirch said. “It's going to help provide closure to this poor family who is just in immense grief.”
Hunter's mother said it's difficult not knowing for sure what happened to her son.
“I talked to him five minutes before. Five minutes. He called me. He told me he needed money to go to the food truck,” Crystal Clark said. “It happened a block from my house. I cannot stay at my house. I'm going to have to move. There's no way. I would have to see that every single day.”
Clark said she's a lucky mother.
“He would give you the shirt off his back. That's what kind of child my son was,” she said. “Always smiled, full of energy.”
Clark said she wants everyone to be careful. She doesn’t want to see anyone else suffer such a tragic loss.
“Please just be aware that there are children out there walking. They are walking right there,” she said. “Just be aware, please.”
Hunter’s funeral is at noon Saturday at Lampkins Patterson Funeral Service on Arlington Expressway. Everyone is welcome to attend to celebrate his life.
Hunter’s family has set up a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses, and several local Chili’s restaurants will donate 10 percent of the bill to Hunter's family for every person who says they’re eating there for Hunter Cope. For a flier you can print and take with you, click here.
The fundraiser will be at the Chili's locations at Queen's Harbour, Fleming Island, Orange Park and Oakleaf.