Hit-and-run drivers leave victims with emotional, physical injury

Jon Wilcox By Jon Wilcox

March 18, 2017 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2017 at 11:40 p.m.

Darlene Moya sorts through a box of donated items during the grand opening of Kevin's Closet.

Darlene Moya sorts through a box of donated items during the grand opening of Kevin's Closet.   Casey Jackson/cjackson@vicad.com for The Victoria Advocate

A secondhand clothing shop bearing the name of her deceased son is a painful but welcome reminder for Bloomington mother Darlene Moya.

"I love when they come in and say, 'Oh, this is Kevin's store' - because it is his store," Moya said in late February at the grand opening of Kevin's Closet, 703 E. Rio Grande St.

Kevin, 11, was killed the morning of Sept. 27 by a still-at-large hit-and-run driver as he was walking to school near SH 185 and Fifth Street in Bloomington.

Tucked in a quiet Victoria shopping plaza next door to a Payless ShoeSource, Kevin's Closet attracted a fair number of curious customers on its grand opening Feb. 25. Moya busied herself working the register, folding clothes and answering questions from customers curious about the store and its name. Visitors also are invited to participate in a food drive in Kevin's name at the shop.

In a back room, Moya's mother, Angie Orta, sorted boxes of donated clothing and items. Orta pointed out a boxed cowboy hat of surprising quality, a hefty bag of beads in assorted colors and shapes, jackets, sweaters and shoes among various other items. A poster board sign asking for information and tips about the driver who killed Kevin rested above a shelf loaded with donated toys. Orta said she will continue to stand at Victoria street corners holding that sign until the driver is found.

After Kevin's death, Moya reopened and renamed the shop, which had been named "Crossroads Closet" when she closed it for health reasons a few years ago.

"Kevin was with me here often after school," the grieving mother said. "He had fun."

The shop's hours are a reflection of Kevin's love of the store. He asked her to close at 3 p.m. so Moya could pick him up from school every day, she said.

Kevin often would spend Saturdays at the shop, where he would chat with customers, help Moya and play.

"Whenever people came in, he greeted them, whether it was with a 'Hi' or an 'Hola,'" she said.

As of Sunday, 173 days had passed since a driver struck the boy, leaving him critically injured on the side of the road. The Department of Public Safety has had no arrests or breaks in Kevin's case to report, said Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, department spokesman. San Miguel said he could not reveal any details or answer questions regarding the case because it is ongoing.

Moya's lips tightened and her eyebrows furrowed at the thought of that driver escaping justice.

"I'm very angry at that person - very angry," she said bitterly, her voice almost a whisper.

Since January 2010, the Texas Department of Transportation reports five pedestrians killed or injured in Victoria County, including Kevin, by hit-and-run drivers on public roadways and spaces.

Like Kevin, John Richard Garcia, a 54-year-old Victoria native, was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Unlike Kevin, Garcia survived.

Garcia was walking from his North Laurent Street home to Our Lady of Victory Cathedral to attend services about 5 p.m Sept. 30 when a car sped by a stop sign and into his body, he said. Garcia then was flown by helicopter to a San Antonio hospital, where he recovered.

"I blacked out, but I do remember the face of that guy, the driver," Garcia said. "He was a young guy."

Thursday, he stood in the front lawn of that same home, just feet from the site of his injury, slowly walking around the driveway with his walker to exercise his crippled right knee.

"I walked off that corner one step, and he just . He came out of nowhere," Garcia said.

His knee, which he cannot extend fully, is still damaged as a result of the impact from the car. Garcia also suffered a fractured wrist and a bruised head.

Despite the injury, Garcia said he is not haunted by what happened and has forgiven the driver in his heart.

The Victoria Police Department continues to search for that driver, said Lt. Eline Moya, department spokeswoman.

Garcia said he carries no ill will for the driver who seriously injured him, but he still would like that person to do the right thing.

"You need to confess and come in and apologize to the person you hit," he said.



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