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First-grader remembered for his dreams

Anton Raposo, who died after he was hit playing outside his uncle's house Sunday, wanted to be a race car driver or superhero.

DUANE BOURNE
Published May 25, 2004

SPRING HILL - Eight-year-old Tyler Raposo screamed out a warning seconds before a sport utility vehicle struck his fraternal twin brother Sunday morning.

Anton, a first-grader who wanted to be a race car driver or a superhero, jerked the Razor scooter he was riding toward the edge of his uncle's driveway on Eldron Street but could not make it to the sidewalk.

His laces got stuck. He was struck.

Anton will never have the chance to live out his dreams, according to his relatives. His heart stopped, and he was pronounced dead in the intensive care unit of St. Joseph's Hospital at 11:53 p.m. Sunday.

"I watched him go," said Anton's uncle, 42-year-old Michael Gropper. "He liked cars and wanted to be a race car driver - what most kids want to be when they grow up. He just wanted to be a kid."

Anton died more than 12 hours after he was knocked from the scooter and sustained two broken legs and a severed liver.

Authorities said the driver, Kenneth Crump, 30, was traveling west on Eldron Street, when Anton crossed the path of his 2004 GMC Yukon and was struck.

Anton was thrown about 10 to 15 yards onto the pavement. As of Monday, Crump had not been charged.

"I just don't understand how he could sit at home like nothing happened," Gropper said. "The kid was hit too hard for there not to be charges."

Gropper couldn't believe it at first when his son, Todd, told him that Anton was just hit by a car. He later recalled how he placed a blanket over Anton's body and delicately moved him toward the sidewalk. He can't forget the look on Anton's face.

"I knew it was bad by looking at his face," he said. "He was such an angelic kid, with an angelic face."

Students at Floyd Elementary School learned of Anton's death at an awards ceremony Monday morning. Teachers and the few students who hung around after the ceremony spoke with grief counselors.

Principal Marcia Austin said students will make cards and write notes to the family. Counselors will also be available today, the last day of school.

"He is going to be missed," Austin said. "In my opinion, people are taking it well. Any time we lose a student it definitely affects us, but it is the time of year that we have to pull ourselves together."

In the face of the tragedy, Michael Gropper managed to pull himself together but does not know how his relatives will cope.

"That page has not yet been written," Gropper said. "Right now, I want to look for closure. But how could you when the person who did it is sitting at home right now?"

That is the only question Gropper wants answered.

"What are they going to do with this person?" he said. "They did not even give him a sobriety test."

Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper Larry Coggins confirmed on Monday that Crump was not given a blood-alcohol test after the incident because investigators did not suspect that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"Right now, it looks like the child violated the right-of-way," Coggins said of the incident. "No charges were filed because the investigation is ongoing."

According to protocol, troopers perform blood-alcohol tests when they detect that drugs or alcohol are involved in a wreck.

"The only time blood is taken automatically is when there is death or the detection of drugs or some sort of intoxicant," Coggins added. "It was not a homicide investigation until the kid died."

That explanation wasn't enough for Anton's relatives and his mother, Carla Schneider.

She recently moved to Hernando County from New York City.

"You buy a house, because you don't want to worry about your kids if they are playing outside. When something like this happens with someone who lives on your block ..." Michael Gropper said before abruptly ending the sentence.

"That was an 8-year-old boy that I would have given my life to."

- Staff writer Logan Neill contributed to this story. Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114. Send e-mail to dbourne@sptimes.com

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