ROCHESTER, N.Y. — An arrest has been made in the death of 3-year-old Amir Pallet, who was killed in a hit and run on Lyell Avenue Saturday night.
Frank Cassata, 48, of Mt. Morris is accused of intentionally leaving the roadway and hitting the child and another 23-year-old woman on Lake Avenue around 7:30 p.m.
The boy was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he died.
“My baby’s gone. No memories I have or anything I can explain about him will bring him back. He was a strong kid. He was strong, he was smart, he was funny, he was happy,” said Sophia Benitez, Amir’s mother.
The 23-year-old was also taken to Strong with non-life threatening injuries.
Police say Cassata fled the scene, causing a second crash on Lake Avenue near Phelps Avenue.
They say two victims of the car he struck were sent to URMC with non-life threatening injuries.
Cassata and his passenger were taken to Rochester General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Cassata has been charged with second-degree murder, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, DWI, as well as multiple other charges.
Authorities say Cassata could be facing more charges when they're presented to a grand jury pending the ongoing investigation. He pleaded not guilty in court Monday morning. He's being held on no bail, no release and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.
“He said, ‘mommy don’t leave me, I go with you, I go with you’ and I left him here and then I get a call hours later screaming from my mom saying, ‘you have to get here, he was hit by a car.’ And I held my baby for two hours last night, his cold body, just wished that he’d wake up and my baby didn’t wake up,” added Benitez.
Family and friends of Amir Pallet gathered at the scene of the crash on Lyell Avenue Sunday morning near Myrtle Street, placing candles and toys in memory of him.
"I was in my room with my girlfriend and I heard a big car crash happen. I come outside, see my niece on the floor bloody, and my nephew on the floor inside my brother’s arms, he’s full of blood. Everybody is panicking, everyone’s recording. It was a lot yesterday, it was a huge loss. At the hospital, it was crazy. He was jolly, he was happy, he was always playing, he always wanted chocolate. He was the best. That was my baby,” said Amir’s aunt, Salina Rodriguez.
“We’re all in this community, we’re all family. We all look out for each other. Every day we walk past, my kids know him and my kids keep asking questions. I don’t know what to tell them,” said neighbor Tina Williams.
Family and friends weren't the only ones honoring the memory of Amir Pallet. The motorcycle group "Life on Two Wheels" held a memorial ride for the 3-year-old. The group says they wanted to raise awareness for his family.
Members of the group bought toys and flowers to honor Amir's memory. They rode from the Walmart on Hudson Avenue to the scene of his death on Lyell Avenue. A member of Life on Two Wheels says a bigger memorial is in the works.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses.
Cassata is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He previously served more than ten years in state prison.
He was first convicted in 2000 of attempted criminal possession of a forged instrument. He served three years and was released.
In 2005 Cassata was found guilty of first degree robbery and burglary. He served eight years for that conviction and was placed on parole, which ended in October.