Search underway for suspect in hit-and-run that killed toddler

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Authorities in Volusia County say a toddler is dead following a hit-and-run incident.

There was a massive police presence in Daytona Beach, shortly before 10 p.m. on Thursday, as law enforcement officers were attempting to locate the driver they said fled the scene.

The fatal hit-and-run incident happened near N. Charles Street at George W. Engram Blvd.  Authorities were searching on the ground and in the air.  A tow truck could be seen loading up a sedan, believed to be the car the suspect was driving, before leaving the area on foot.

"We have a suspect named Earnest Ponder, born in 1989. We have charges right now of leaving the scene of an accident and causing death, and driving without a driver's license," said Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.  "We're looking for him right now, and we're going through our normal protocols and investigation. We have to do some work on the vehicle and finish interviewing some witnesses."

Chief Capri said the hit-and-run incident appears to have been an accident.

"It appears he backed up into the child, unfortunately...realized what he did and took off running. I don't know it was out of fear or under the influence of some type of substance. He fled on foot," Capri added.

Police say the victim is just 22-months-old.

Capri said Ponder is not known to the family of the victim. 

"We feel comfortable we have the right person. We talked to the passenger in the vehicle who also identified himself. Now we just gotta make sure we go back and do our due diligence and process the vehicle right, make sure we get all the statements together," he added. 

Anyone who may know the whereabouts of Ponder, 29, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477).