9-year-old hit by car was on the way to sign up for basketball game, died in mother’s arms, dad says

The father of a 9-year-old boy who was killed in a hit-and-run earlier this week says he died in his mother’s arms.

Jamal Dean was hit by a car outside a recreation center on Cleveland Avenue in southeast Atlanta on Tuesday.

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Channel 2′s Tom Jones was at the Rosel Fann rec center on Thursday, where Jamal’s father, Christopher, said Jamal and his mother had come to the recreation center to sign up for basketball.

Christopher Dean said Jamal was so excited that he jumped out of the car and tried to cross the street. That’s when witnesses said a Ford truck hit him and kept going.

“He was getting ready to play in a basketball tournament this weekend,” Dean said. “That’s why he was at that rec center.”

Dean said Jamal’s mother needed to register him at the rec center to play in the tournament.

It was storming Tuesday and there was heavy traffic when parents and their kids showed up to sign up for basketball.

“His mom said he jumped out the car, and she was like, ‘Hold on son.’’ But as soon as he stepped out, a car came out, swerved and hit him. My son,” Dean said. “He was such a happy, happy child.”


Dean said Jamal died in his mother’s arms.

Officers haven’t released a description of the vehicle that hit him, but witnesses described seeing an orange or red truck.

“He got hit by a truck, right,” a witness said in the 911 calls. “A four-door Ford truck.”

Dean said his son, a Hawthorne Elementary School third-grader was smart, always positive and a joy to be around. He said he had a big, forgiving heart, even for the driver who hit him.

“If my son would have survived, he would have forgave him,” Dean said. “He didn’t have an evil thought in his soul.”

Still, Dean wonders how the driver could just speed off.

“How could you leave? Just leave a kid like that on the street?” Dean said.

Jamal’s mother shared a statement on a GoFundMe page for her son.

“My children are my whole world. So as I type this message I am broken. How am I supposed to live without him, Jamal my best friend, my love, my baby. I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support from the community asking how can they help. For that reason I created this go fund me page. My family and I are devastated, never have I felt so much pain. Jamal, baby how am I supposed to live without you. You gave me purpose, you needed me and I still need you. Never could I imagine you’d be taken from me, from the world.”

Police are still searching for the driver.

County workers touched by Jamal’s sudden death said they planted a garden in front of the recreation center in his memory.

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