NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) ─ A deadly crash hundreds of miles away is hitting home for a New Bedford family.
Phil Pereira, 40, was riding a motorcycle when he collided with a car in Virginia Beach last week, according to police. The driver of the vehicle then took off.
Pereira was born and raised in New Bedford and had just recently moved to Virginia, according to his niece Alexandria DeAndrade.
“I don’t understand how you can hit someone and keep driving,” DeAndrade said.
DeAndrade and the rest of Pereira’s family hopes investigators are able to track down the driver who left him there to die.
Her message for the person responsible is clear.
“You didn’t choose to kill our uncle, you chose to leave him there,” DeAndrade said. “We don’t blame you for the accident, it’s an accident for a reason. You didn’t try to hurt him. We are upset that you didn’t check on him. We are upset that you didn’t stop.”
“There is a part of every single one of my family member’s right now that thinks ‘what if you stayed?'” she continued. “If you were there for that extra minute and called, maybe he would be OK. That’s going to be in our thoughts.”
DeAndrade said her uncle is being remembered as a loving father. She will always remember how he made everyone smile, even though it was his that shined the brightest.
“No matter what, he would always be the one hugging everyone, offering a drink, the funniest laugh, the biggest person in the room,” she recalled. “His smile was infectious, his attitude was positive. everything about him was fantastic.”
Pereira’s family tells 12 News they’ve raised enough money to transport his body back to New Bedford, meaning he will be laid to rest in his hometown.