BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens of people gathered Sunday evening for a vigil honoring an 11-year-old boy who was killed in a crash involving a deputy from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
The vigil for Norman Hood, 11, was held at the Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek, less than a mile away from the scene of last week’s fatal crash.
“It ain’t no second or a minute or an hour that I’m going to stop thinking about my son,” Hood’s father said at the vigil.
Norman’s three other siblings all wore memorial shirts showing his photo.
Several people shared memories of the 11-year-old’s spark, including his friend, 15-year-old Antonio Griffin Jr., who was reportedly with Norman when the deputy’s cruiser hit him.
Sheriff Matt Saxton said his deputy was heading to a breaking and entering call. He had not turned on the cruiser’s emergency lights or sirens. Saxton said the boy was on a motorized bike with no helmet and no lights.
“My son was right there. Right next to him (Norman),” Antonio Griffin Sr. said.
He agreed to speak to 24 Hour News 8 in his son’s place, explaining that his son has struggled with flashbacks of the incident and is receiving counseling.
“No sirens, no nothing,” Griffin Sr. said. “So the police department is wrong. They (are) wrong.”
His son said the deputy crashed into Norman Hood as the fifth grader walked his motorized scooter across Michigan Avenue last Tuesday. There was no warning.
“He (Norman) wasn’t riding his scooter. He was walking his scooter across the street and the police hit. No lights on,” Griffin Sr. said.
“Y’all (police) rushing there so fast. Put your lights on. That’s all you got to do, put your lights on. Let people know what’s going on,” he continued.
He believes the boy would still be alive if the lights had been activated.
Mavis Perez, Norman’s first and third grade teacher, called him her “special little guy.”
“I kind of adopted him. He adopted me. I’m not sure who benefited more out of the relationship. I always think I did,” she said.
Perez called for an end to social media rumors and speculation about what happened.
“The would’ves and could’ves and should’ves don’t change the incident,” Perez said.
Norman’s family agreed.
“I don’t think anybody ever plans to bury an 11-year-old and no one should. It’s not OK,” Perez said.
The sheriff never answered questions from reporters about whether it is procedure for a deputy heading to a breaking and entering call to activate their sirens or not. Saxton did say state police are investigating the crash. The deputy, who was not placed on leave, was offered counseling.
If you would like to help the Hood family cover funeral costs, you can contact Farley Estes & Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care.