PORT ALLEN — A 6-year-old autistic boy who wandered several miles from a Christmas party in West Baton Rouge Parish was killed in a hit-and-run Friday night, State Police said Sunday.
Kaleb Shavers, 4247 Prescott Court, Baton Rouge, walked away from the party at a North River Road home in Port Allen about 9:15 p.m. Friday and headed west along North River Road, Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer said.
Investigators believe Kaleb cut through a cane field to reach U.S. 190/La. 1 where he was struck by a vehicle heading west, Sandifer said.
When guests at the private Christmas party for members of Harvest Church in Port Allen realized no one had seen the boy for about 10 minutes, they searched around the outside of the house for the child, Sandifer said. When they couldn’t find the boy, they called authorities.
West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies along with a State Police helicopter and numerous volunteers also searched the area to no avail, Sandifer said.
A firefighter who joined in the search found the boy’s body about 12:45 a.m. Saturday, Sandifer said.
Kaleb’s body was found in a grassy area beyond the westbound shoulder of U.S. 190 east of La. 415, Sandifer said. The State Police estimated he had walked about 2 miles, Sandifer said.
But his father, Kelvin Shavers, 37, said he does not agree with the State Police’s initial findings, particularly that his son walked that far from the party.
Shavers said he believes at some point, someone in a vehicle picked up his son.
“I do know that my son was struck by a vehicle, picked up and dropped off on the side of the road,” he said.
“Someone had to hit him, roll over him and drop him off to give (the appearance) that they hit him there.”
Shavers said his son, who he described as being very territorial and did not like to leave his own yard, would have had to walk two miles down a highway, turn down a dirt road and walk a mile through the cane field, and finally walk about a half-mile down the highway to reach the spot where his body was found.
“You’re talking about my son and I know his ways and his acts,” Shavers said.
Authorities did not initially find enough evidence at the scene to suggest Kaleb was hit and killed by a vehicle, Sandifer said.
However, further examination of the scene and autopsy results showed Kaleb suffered injuries consistent with a vehicle strike, Sandifer said.
Shavers said his son suffered a broken leg and a head injury, but did not suffer.
“I was thinking he was laying on the ground crying, screaming for help,” said Shavers, who was not at the party, but arrived after his wife said their son was missing. “But they said it took him instantly.”
Shavers said his son’s autism was very mild and he was very dependent on his family.
“He was a fun child, loved to smile, a very, very playful child,” Shavers said. “He was very energetic and high-spirited.”
Troopers have few leads on the vehicle that struck the boy and are asking for the public’s help.
“No piece of information should be considered insignificant,” Sandifer said. “Troopers will follow all leads in an effort to bring this case to closure and get answers for the family of the juvenile.”
Shavers does have a message for the person who killed his son.
“I want closure and I hope God will take every inch of sleep from him until he comes forward,” he said.
Anyone with information can contact Louisiana State Police at (225) 754-8500 or their local law agency.