DALLAS — Authorities appear to be no closer to catching the driver of a fleeing minivan that slammed into a car Tuesday morning, killing 13-year-old Ethan Vasquez and critically injuring his mother in the M Streets area of Dallas.
Balloons, flowers, and stuffed animals mark the spot of the tragedy. Sandy Repka, a neighbor, brought flowers, but — more importantly — a prayer.
“You know, in a situation like this, you want to help, but you don’t know what to do," she said.
Most neighbors told News 8 they are hungry for any information, hoping more information will calm their nerves.
“I’m just surprised there aren’t more police asking more questions,” said a neighbor named Kasey.
Sources tell News 8 investigators found an assault rifle and burglar tools inside the minivan — including a crowbar, bolt-cutters and pry bars.
Authorities also recovered a cell phone, and investigators are hoping that it may yield clues to the identity of the driver of that stolen van.
Neighbors were very surprised to hear about what was inside the back of the minivan. For some residents, it scared them even more.
“I think [the suspects] know what they were doing. They’ve probably done this before, but this time, they took the life of a little boy and hurt the mother... it’s awful,” said Shannon Steele, a neighbor.
Sandy Vasquez, 40, remained in critical condition Wednesday at Baylor University Medical Center. Her husband, Sgt. Victor Vasquez, is a 20-year veteran of the Cedar Hill police force.
Chalk marks on the pavement and a small memorial at the corner of Homer Street and Monticello Avenue were the only visible reminders one day after the deadly crash.
Ethan’s mother was driving him to Travis Academy in Dallas, where he was a student, when they crossed paths with the fleeing minivan around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.
A Highland Park police officer had been chasing the minivan after it ran several stop signs. Police have said that the officer called off the chase a short time before the accident because the driver of the van was driving so erratically.
The minivan's driver and a passenger were bleeding as they climbed out of the damaged vehicle and fled on foot. They remain at large, and police are unsure of their identities.
Bloodhounds searching for the suspects traced their movements down an overgrown alley that dead-ended into a large concrete retaining wall for North Central Expressway. Police believe the suspects doubled back and then went down another alley that led to North Central Expressway, and that’s where the trail went cold.
Police have also recovered video evidence indicating that a truck — also stolen — was following the minivan prior to the fatal accident. Given that the suspects seemingly disappeared without a trace, investigators believe they likely got into another vehicle and fled the area.
The truck was later recovered by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, sources said.
Sources tell News 8 that the van’s back seats had been removed, and that the vehicle's interior appeared to have been wiped clean of any fingerprints.
Oak Farms Dairy is offering $10,000, and Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000 for any information in the case that leads to an arrest and indictment.
A fund has been set up to help the Vasquez family at CNB of Texas. Donations can be mailed to this address:
CNB of Texas
c/o the Vasquez family
106 West FM 1382
Cedar Hill, TX 75104
Donations can also be made at any CNB of Texas branch.