Mother, son of deadly hit-and-run speak out: thank community for support, hope for safer streets

A family forever changed

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -A normal day for 10-year-old Max Lautaire, now, is on his bed, playing Legos and attending class through Zoom while his right leg sits wrapped in a cast. Still healing from the hit-and-run nearly a month ago that broke two bones in his leg and took his brother’s life; he remembers the moment vividly.

“This light gray car comes up from the hill, and in our minds, we’re supposed to think it’s supposed to slow down or stop,” he said. “When it was kind of still going fast and past the line, I kind of knew, so I just started running, but Edouard was standing still like ice or something.”

9-year-old Edouard Lautaire was killed that day, as the family crossed Broadway together, their mother, Valentina, just steps away. She said the entire scene felt unreal and a moment she keeps replaying in her mind, especially at night. A boy, she describes, as brave, smart, creative and a helper—would hold her hand while the family walked to and from the grocery store. A hand that brought warmth and comfort, gone.

“He was holding my hand every time, and now he’s cold and hard it was so hard to see him,” she said.

Valentina recalls seeing the hit-and-run hitting her two sons in a flash, dragging Ed down the road and leaving Max to crawl to the sidewalk. Streaks of purple ingrained in her mind as a sort of vision she saw—a color she feels represents, and was, her 9-year-old son’s spirit. Purple, she sees everywhere now, in a dragonfly bracelet, a Mother’s Day craft her boys made for her or on flowers in her dresses.

“It’s now very special to me. I think it’s his energy and his spirit…he holds me strong,” she said.

An “E”, Ed’s backpack and cards sent from school friends and stranger are displayed in the family’s home—with dozens of other cards sent from even more people from the community. Some who attended the fundraiser at Denny’s, left cards and books to help the family heal. It seems the pain this mother and child feel, was felt by the whole city, and they are grateful beyond words for the outpouring of support.

“God bless everybody. Thank you so much,” Valentina repeated, expressing tremendous gratitude.

Pictures of her two boys were spread across the bed, hundreds of photos to be sent to family members in Ukraine, where she immigrated from years ago.

Valentina and her boys had recently moved to the East side of town to be close to her stepson. They still live near the accident, but it has been too hard to go to the scene unless in a group. A memorial with a cross, stuffed animal, Legos and dinosaurs fills a corner near the crosswalk. It’s a sign, to the family, that something needs to be done to make the city safer for pedestrians.

“We have to make better pedestrian crossing…I don’t know everything was correct over there,” said Valentina.

They were crossing in an active HAWK light. According to police data obtained by KOLD 13, from January 1, 2015 to October 1, 2020 on Broadway, between N Kolb Rd and N Houghton Rd, there were 32 pedestrian collisions and 18 cyclist collisions. Nearly 97 percent of pedestrian collisions and nearly 89 percent of cyclist collisions resulted in some form of injury. Nine percent of pedestrian crashes were fatal.

Source: TPD
Source: TPD (Source: kold)

Between the same time frame and area, there were 80 hit-and-run collisions, most with no injury, and one being fatal. Monday and Friday saw the most hit-and-runs, while the majority of cyclist and pedestrian collisions happened on Thursdays. Ed and Max were hit on a Wednesday, just before 5 p.m.

The Tucson Department of Transportation said in an email that, “HAWK lights are the most effective pedestrian crossing that is in operation today. There is a 90-plus percent compliance rate – motorists stopping for pedestrians.”

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