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17-year-old killed in hit-and-run was on his way to take ACT

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says suspect left scene of crash, may have entered a rideshare vehicle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Family members say Michael Walton, 17, was only a few blocks from his high school -- where he was headed to take the ACT -- when he was killed over the weekend in a hit-and-run.

It happened near Murray Hill on Saturday. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said a man who was driving a 2022 Hyundai Sonata ran a red light before causing the crash. Investigators said the man then abandoned the crashed vehicle and entered a silver vehicle on Edgewood Avenue, possibly a rideshare car.

He was a friend to many and a loving son, known affectionately as Prince.

“When (he) was born, as I was holding him in my arms, I said, ‘You are my prince,’” recalled his mother, Renee.

She said around 6:30 Saturday morning, Walton asked for breakfast before heading out to take the test.

It’s the last time his mother would hear his voice.

“That was hard because the person just left him. Just left him. Didn’t check on him. Didn’t call 911. You just left my baby,” Walton’s mother said.

Her son, who had just taken his senior photos, was eager to go to college and study physical therapy.

Michael Walton

“He took a friend, he took a son, he took a player. He was all that to us,” said David Jones, his basketball coach.

Walton was a leader on and off the basketball court. A teacher told News4Jax he was the “definition of a great student.”

A special ceremony is planned for Walton on Friday at his high school.

His classmates and teammates will all wear red in his memory and share stories.

“He just kept all our energy up,” said Trent Watson, a teammate. “If he came around us, like, he just would keep our heads up when we were down. He was like a motivator to all of us.”

Walton’s family and friends hope the driver is caught so they can get justice and have closure.

“That was heartless. Heartless to leave a valuable and priceless human being in that condition,” Walton’s father Michael said of the other driver. “Turn yourself in. Turn yourself in.”

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.