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13-year-old victim's family visits scene of apparent hit-and-run along highway in Fort Worth to plead for public's help

A TxDOT worker found the teen's body in a grassy off-ramp area of the I-30 and West Loop 820 interchange.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The last time anyone saw Fort Worth teenager Israel Ethan Hernandez alive was when he left his home at 7:39 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2022.

The family's Ring doorbell camera recorded him on the front porch before he walked away from the house. 

"Israel was only 13 years old," said Camy Vera. "Now we are left with a huge void in our lives. This was a violent crime."

Vera is the grandmother of Hernandez.  He is one of four siblings and the oldest boy in the family.

His aunt, Kristy Day, shared what kind of person her nephew was so people would know the type of boy they've lost in their family.

"He would bend over backwards for anyone, including his friends. He was concerned with everyone around him," said Day.

Now, family surrounds his mother as they search for answers about his death after reporting him missing and circulating thousands of fliers.

They strategically placed the fliers in places where Hernandez was well known. He would walk everywhere and greet people along the way. 

Business owners in the neighborhood became familiar with Hernandez because they would see him pass by. He befriended the people who worked in the neighborhood donut shop, which immediately agreed to allow his family to post one of the many fliers about him missing.

"We passed out over 5,000 fliers in the neighborhood, in each corner of our neighborhood, the west side, down businesses on Camp Bowie," said Vera.

His mother, Corina Vera, wants answers more than anyone about what happened to her oldest son. When he failed to return home, she looked for him non-stop. 

Corina Vera said, "We shared constantly. I spent 15 hours a day looking for my baby."

On Nov. 12, Fort Worth police sent a tweet asking for help locating Hernandez. 

Then on Nov. 16, while replacing an interstate light, a Texas Department of Transportation worker found a body in the off-ramp grass near the Interstate 30 and West Loop 820 interchange.

His family gathered at the same spot as part of his memorial carrying photos, their native flag, posters signed by his friends and handmade crosses.

"The crosses come from his family," said Day. "We love him so much. We poured our loved into him just like we did him every day."

The teen's family said Fort Worth PD is investigating the 13-year-old's death as a hit-and-run that possibly happened somewhere else. They hope their memorial gets the attention of whoever is responsible.

"If it wasn't an accident, we want to know it was an accident," said Carrisa Vera. "Come forward and let us know what happened. You are the last person that was in contact with Ethan."

Camy Vera said, "Help us get answers, because what if this was you? What if this was your nephew or your grandson."

The family hopes to start making arrangements to celebrate the life of Hernandez some time this week. 

The medical examiner used DNA to help identify Hernandez.  The family is waiting to learn from the detective assigned to the case at the Fort Worth Police Department if a Crime Stoppers reward can be added for information leading to an arrest.  

If so, anyone with information who anonymously calls the Crime Stoppers hotline would receive up to $1,000 in cash. The telephone number for Crime Stoppers is 817-469-TIPS (8477). 

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