Philadelphia

Police Reunite Boy With Therapy Dog That Went Missing After Philadelphia Hit-&-Run Crash Claimed Uncle's Life

Hours after a hit-and-run crash claimed a boy's uncle's life and injured his father, Philadelphia Police reunited the boy with his therapy dog that went missing following the deadly crash.

A sport utility vehicle slammed into a Mazda sedan at E Luzerne and Elsinore streets in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, said Philadelphia Police.

The Arroyo brothers had just gotten inside the four-door sedan after spending the day working on a special-needs van for Osvaldo Arroyo's son when the SUV slammed into the car, said family members. The force of the crash trapped one brother -- identified by family as Francis Arroyo. The father of two later died from his injuries.

Medics rushed his brother, Osvaldo, who was driving at the time, to Temple University Hospital where he was treated and released early Monday, said family.

Inside the car was also Max, the dog of Osvaldo Arroyo's 12-year-old son Jonathan who is blind, deaf and mute and has no mobility, according to Arroyo. The 2-year-old Bichon that brings joy to the boy went missing after the crash. Osvaldo went straight from the hospital to search for his son's companion.

On Tuesday, an officer returned Max to the Arroyo home. Someone in the neighborhood spotted the dog and alerted police.

the search for Max ended Tuesday but the search for the driver of the SUV continued. After the wreck, the driver sped off once around the block, nearly hitting people on the second trip around the block, said witnesses. The SUV then sped off for good.

"That vehicle is a 2008 Mitsubishi SUV," said Capt. John Wilczynski.

A bystander tailed the SUV and told police that the driver ditched the striking SUV at Rising Sun Avenue and 9th Street in North Philadelphia -- that's about 2 miles away from the crash site. When officers arrived, the driver was gone.

Wilczynski said the SUV is registered to Alberto Vangas, known in the neighborhood as Pito Vanga, a local tattoo artist. Police hoped to speak to the 38-year-old -- who lives near where the SUV was found -- about who was behind the wheel of his vehicle at the time of the wreck.

Osvaldo Arroyo, who continues to recover from his injuries, spoke to NBC10 about his brother's death. 

"Right now I don't believe it," he said. "This happened like that and so quick. He don't got family? What if it happens to him? Somebody is going to get him because they know who it is." 

NBC10 also spoke with Francis' 14-year-old son Frankie. 

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"My dad is a good guy," he said. "Nobody should have to go through this. He's got three kids, me, a 2-year-old son and one on the way. We just want to put this guy behind bars." 

Police asked anyone who might have spotted the SUV after the crash or who knows of Vangas' whereabouts to contact Philadelphia Police.

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