Local mother warns about traffic safety after 2-year-old hit, killed while trick-or-treating

LAKE WALES, Fla. - A Polk County mother is sharing her horrifying story, in an effort to keep all superheroes and princesses safe this Halloween.

It’s been three years since her family experienced a trick-or-treating turned tragedy in 2014.

“It still hurts every day,” Ashley Vasquez said.

The now childless mother was at work when she got a phone call to come quick.

“Got there and I said 'let me see my baby let me see my baby' and they are like he is gone,” she said, tears already welling up in her eyes.

Dohntae’s grandmother, Angela Hoerl and a family friend had taken the toddler for his first night out trick-or-treating.

The two-year-old dressed as his favorite super hero.

“I think he was more excited to be Captain America then he was to be trick-or-treating,” his mother said.

But when the group was crossing the busy US-27 in Lake Wales to continue their festivities, a family friend realized he had dropped his phone and ran back into the road to grab it.

Dohntae and the rest of the trick-or-treaters were left in the middle of the median. 

Dohntae, like more toddlers, followed the action.

“I grabbed him and held him to me and just kept screaming my baby my baby,” Angela Hoerl, his grandmother, watched the two-year-old run into oncoming traffic, helpless. “I held him for a long time, I didn’t want to let him go.”

A bus hit little Dohntae, killing him instantly.

No one was held responsible for the death.

A report claiming the two-year-old violated the driver’s right-of-way and that ultimately it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

Now as each Halloween passes, its a painful reminder for the Vasquez family.

“Hold their hand crossing the street, that’s my biggest regret I should’ve held him,” Hoerl said she should have paid more attention.

RELATED: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides Halloween safety tips

His family now spreading the word and a warning to take the time this Halloween to watch your children.

“Just watch your children, it’s all I have to say just watch your babies, because you were not promised tomorrow with them,” Vasquez said.

Dohntae Vasquez would have been five this Halloween. 

Print this article Back to Top