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Grieving St. Louis family prepares to say goodbye to 4-year-old killed in hit-and-run

Waller cannot believe her little grandson, who loved fishing, singing at church and making people laugh is suddenly gone.

ST. LOUIS — Tears streamed down Esther Waller's face Sunday when she thought about what happened to her 4-year-old grandson, Tavaras Chilsom, Jr.

"He was so intelligent, friendly and happy. He knew his alphabets. He could count to 20 and he knew his colors," she said. "Yes, he made me proud."

Waller said on the night of Oct. 5, her daughter picked up Tavaras and his 2-year-old sister, Tyonna from Rising Star Daycare in North St. Louis County.

"She picked them up like she always did and put the kids in a stroller and crossed the street to go to the bus stop. They were heading to my home because they stay with me," said Waller.

In a flash, the unimaginable happened.

Police say surveillance video shows 27-year-old Demetrius Cole, of Florissant, sped down Chambers Road near Clairmont in a black Nissan and plowed into the stroller Waller's daughter was pushing along a crosswalk.

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Investigators said the headlights on Cole's car were off at the time and he did not stop or brake. Cole claimed his car had been stolen before the incident and that he recovered it after it struck the two children.

Tavaras died at a hospital.

"The death of my grandson caught us all by surprise. It's the worst thing I ever experienced in my life. It's just so hurtful and I can't describe the pain," she said.

The boy's sister suffered broken bones in her right leg. She's now out of the hospital.

"Tyonna is in the healing process. We could have been preparing two funerals right now, but I just thank God she survived. She's a miracle," she said.

Waller cannot believe her little grandson, who loved fishing, singing at church and making people laugh is suddenly gone.

"I'm gonna always miss him when he says 'Granny, I love you.' Every time he said that, my whole world just lit up. I'll never see my little angel anymore," Waller said.

A funeral for Tavaras Chilsom Jr. will be held on Monday morning at Faith Holiness Apostolic Church in East St. Louis, Illinois.

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