Little Billy Montoya Jr. was a happy, energetic 2-year-old who loved Elmo, riding his tricycle, dancing and jumping around.
The boy was killed Monday night when he ran out into the street in front of his home and was struck by a pickup truck. Police are continuing their search for the driver, who fled from the scene.
Billy — affectionately nicknamed "Peanut" — was always on the lookout for his grandmother and knew that she would come from across the street.
"He turned around and he saw me and I yelled, 'Peanut,' and he said 'Nana!' and he started running," Cota said Tuesday morning.
Billy knew to stay in the yard, but for some reason on Monday night he bolted out into the street to greet her and was struck by a truck that was southbound on Park Avenue.
He barely made it two steps into the street before he was hit by what police believe was a 2007 or 2008 Chevrolet Silverado with a chrome roll bar. The truck is likely maroon, dark red or black and is the LS or LT model, according to Sgt. Mark Robinson, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.
Billy's mother — Marcella Ybarra — had gone inside the home to grab a glass of water at the time, Cota said. But Billy was being watched by his 14-year-old uncle, Christopher Chavez, who tried to run after the toddler but was unable to reach him in time.
Both Christopher and Cota watched as the truck carried Billy for a short distance before he was thrown from the vehicle, Cota said. He was lifeless when they got to him, and it was clear that nothing could be done, she said.
A number of other motorists stopped, but the driver of the truck did not, Cota said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line of the Pima County Attorney's Office.