Essex community mourns 2-year-old killed in hit and run

J’Vierre Durden (Source: Kansas City, Missouri Police Department)
J’Vierre Durden (Source: Kansas City, Missouri Police Department)

STODDARD COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A Heartland community is trying to get through a tragedy, one that should strike a nerve with parents.

Over the weekend, a family from a community just outside of Essex in Stoddard County was visiting Kansas City. Authorities say early Saturday morning, the 2-year-old boy wandered out of the motel room, and a car hit and killed the boy.

The boy is J'Vierre Durden. The Stoddard County community said it's not only a loss for the Durden family, but the entire community.

"We're all going to miss him," said Ted Whittaker.

Whittaker lives next to the Durden family.

"A nice close knit family, and I really enjoy them as neighbors, and the little one he was our heart out here, really, and we're gonna miss him," said Whittaker.

Neighbors like Whittaker said J'Vierre Durden was sweet and knew everyone's name.

"He was smart, he was loveable, he would really get along with everyone you know, and he never met a stranger, he was just friendly," said Whittaker.

They said he rode a mini-4-wheeler around the neighborhood, something neighbors said they loved.

"He did, he really enjoyed riding the little four-wheeler," said Whittaker.

Neighbors said after they heard about the hit and run, they came together to clean the family's house, mow the lawn, and put away any toys, so the Durden family didn't have to see those first when they return home. They said it's all part of the tight knit community.

Whittaker said he can't believe tragedy would strike like this, not to the community, or to this little boy.

"Not in a million years," said Whittaker.

Kansas City Police said they have not located the suspect vehicle involved in the hit and run, but are following leads.

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