A 2-year-old boy, who was reported missing from his Key Largo home Monday, was hit and killed by a car overnight.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says Austen Mark Alward’s parents called them just after midnight to say they couldn’t find their son. They said they had been looking for him for 30 minutes after realizing he was missing from their home along Sunset Boulevard.
Twenty minutes later, the child was found on the southbound side of U.S. 1, lying on the median. According to deputies, he was struck by a car around Mile Marker 99.
"He apparently managed to open the door to the home and walk outside," said Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy Becky Herrin.
The child was taken to Mariner’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"I'm just sick to my stomach," said Paul Flumerfeldt, a friend of the Alward family. "I don't know how anyone can deal with this. Such a young, young child. It's just unbelievable."
At Mile Marker 23 about 12:55 a.m., a car with front-end damage was pulled over. The 63-year-old driver from Pennsylvania told the deputy he thought he may have hit an animal at Mile Marker 99.
Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
"At this point in time, we are still looking into the circumstances surrounding it, so we don't know what happened," said Herrin.
"Very difficult. I wouldn't wish this upon anybody," added Flumerfeldt.