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WEST VALLEY CITY — With the help of watchful residents, police have arrested a man who they say left the scene after hitting and killing an 11-year-old boy with his pickup truck on Wednesday.
About 11:40 p.m., a woman and her son were walking together along 4000 West near 4200 South on a sidewalk when a vehicle "left the roadway, traveled onto the sidewalk and struck the child. The driver of the vehicle did not stop," according to West Valley police. The mother was not hit.
Steven Rollins, 45, was arrested about a mile away from where the incident took place and was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving death, which is a third-degree felony.
"A silver Toyota Tacoma was observed by witnesses traveling south on 4000 West when they saw the truck move right of center striking an object. ... The witness followed the suspect vehicle and attempted to get its attention by flashing their headlights," a police booking affidavit states.
The boy was identified in court documents only as "S.M."
After hitting the boy, the driver got back onto the road and drove off, police say. The boy was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries.
The mother and son had been in downtown Salt Lake City sightseeing that night and rode a bus home. They had just gotten off at the bus stop nearby and were walking toward their home when the boy was hit, said West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku.
West Valley police said Friday they worked "day and night" searching for the person who hit the boy and spoke to neighbors to the north of where the crash occurred, letting them know to watch for the vehicle.
Police found broken parts from the right-front of the truck at the scene of the crash, according to the affidavit, and they had broken off as a result of the impact. They were identified as likely belonging to a Toyota Tacoma manufactured in 2019. Surveillance videos from homes and businesses in the area also corroborated the make and model of the vehicle, police said.
Just before midnight, a neighbor reported a vehicle matching the description was parked and a man and woman walked away from it. Investigators located the truck and found damage "consistent with the fatal accident," police said in a statement.
The license plate number was registered to Rollins' mother, according to the affidavit. Police found Seven Rollins in a trailer parked on the side of a home "only a few houses away from the location where the Toyota Tacoma was parked," the affidavit states.
A woman who was with Rollins when officers found him "made a spontaneous utterance" asking them if they had "come for Steven" and "acknowledging that he had killed a child while driving," police wrote in the arrest report.
The woman "told officers that she and others were aware of the hit-and-run and that a child had died. She also indicated that she had attempted to get Steven to turn himself in," police said.
The woman said Rollins had driven her in his truck, including to the area where police found them. Police said she gave the officers the keys to the truck, which she had taken away from Rollins "because she did not want anyone else to get hurt."
"We commend the hard work and dedication of our traffic unit whose members worked tirelessly to make an arrest in this case," police said in a news release, also thanking community members "who work with us as partners every day to ensure safety in their neighborhoods and justice in our city."
KSL-TV's Shara Park learned that the boy was a student at Ephraim Elementary, and was going to attend Ephraim Middle School this year. The South Sanpete superintendent told KSL that counselors will be at the school this coming week for anyone needing extra emotional support.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly said the incident occurred Thursday night instead of Wednesday night.