KILGORE, TX (KTRE) - Lieutenant Roman Roberson, public information officer with the Kilgore Police Department, said Jae McNaughton was walking with his 12-year-old sister and 16-year-old cousin when he was hit by pick-up truck. It happened just before 6:30 a.m. as the three headed to the bus stop.
"I turned around and my little brother was laying face down in the road," said JoAnna Neff. JoAnna was with her brother when the accident happened.
A bright orange "x" was spray-painted on the pavement, marking the spot on Gulf-Hercules Road where Jae McNaughton was hit.
JoAnna said she, Jae and her cousin, Lane White, are the first kids on the bus, every morning. They were just a few yards from home when a pick-up truck came through the intersection.
JoAnna said her cousin tried to push her and her brother out of the way.
"When [Lane] spun around, he looked at Jae, and then he went and drug the guy out of his truck and started beating him," she said. "I picked Jae up and I started screaming and crying," she said.
JoAnna said she later ran back to her house and called 9-1-1. The school bus arrived just moments after the accident.
"The driver stopped and offered help," said Roberson. "He's been very cooperative and remorseful. He's very upset about it," he said.
Kilgore Police could not confirm whether or not Jesus Martinez Soto ran the stop sign at the intersection, but Roberson said traffic laws were broken. Soto had no license. His blue F-150 has been impounded. Both the inspection and registration stickers expired last year.
He has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.
Roberson said the children appeared to have been walking on the correct side of the road.
"They were walking on the edge of the roadway, and they were crossing the intersection," he said. He said he doesn't know if anything could have been done to prevent the unfortunate accident.
Pictures of Jae hang on the wall inside Kilgore Heights Elementary.
Principal of the school, Julie Hope, described Jae as a "bright, sweet child" with "lot of friends."
"Everybody is pretty sad right now," she said.
"He always said, 'When I grow up, I want to be just like my daddy, big and strong," said JoAnna. "I'm not crying right now because I know he's in a better place."
A fund is now set up at Citizen's Bank in Kilgore under the 5-year-old's name.