Young hit-and-run victim remembered as 'angel'

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A single candle still burns at a growing memorial for Alexander Torres on Hillsborough Avenue.  Nearly a week has passed, and the driver who killed the 11-year-old boy in a hit-and-run crash still has not been identified.

"We wish the driver would just step forward and help," said Randy Elwood, Alexander's uncle. "I wish that person would come forward. We don't know what happened or why, but coming forward and getting a resolve will bring closure to our family and everybody else included."

Alexander was reported missing on November 6 when he didn't ride his bicycle to his Town 'N Country home on time after leaving Davis Elementary School.

According to his uncle, Alexander got in some minor trouble at school over not turning in his homework. His mother spoke to him over the phone from school, but no one heard from him afterwards.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office used their helicopter and K-9 unit to search for the child, but he was not found until 2:30 a.m. Saturday, lying in the roadway after being struck by a car.

Alexander loved science and cooking. He dreamed of growing up to be a chef.

"I remember we talked a couple of Thanksgivings ago about the process of cooking and the things he liked to cook," said Elwood.

Among the few witnesses present during the hit-and-run crash, no one has been able to identify the driver behind the wheel. Witnesses have provided police with a vague description of the car involved. It is believed to be a 2005 or 2006 Nissan Altima, metallic grey in color.

"Anyone who has any idea of anyone that has a car that fits this description -- a relative, a coworker -- if they haven't seen them in the car in the past few days, report it to the Tampa Police Department. No matter how minor it might be," pleaded Elwood.

While the family is still having a hard time coping with the loss of Alexander, they said they are appreciative of the support they've received from both the Tampa Police Department and the public. Several people have left flowers, teddy bears, candles, and cards at the memorial for Alexander near the crash site on Hillsborough Avenue.

"One thing that touched my heart the first Saturday, a little girl knocked on the door. She had a little note she wanted to present to Alex. I read it, and it brought a tear to everybody's eyes," explained Elwood. "She remembered moving here and didn't know anyone. She saw kids playing, and Alex asked her to play with them. She did, she fell down, and other kids laughed at her, but Alex reached down and picked her up and helped her. She remembers that as her only friend, and she called him the angel…Her angel."

Crimestoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the hit-and-run case. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-873-8477.

Alexander's family plans to open his funeral to the public on Sunday.  A visitation service is happening from 2 to 4 p.m. at Gonzalez Funeral Home, 7209 N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

The memorial service will follow at the same location from 4 to 5 p.m.