CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Forrest Hooper loved dinosaurs, playing Fortnite and helping others.
The father of the Chesapeake 8-year-old who was killed after being struck by a runaway driver while waiting to cross the road Tuesday afternoon shared memories of his son as he spoke exclusively to 10 On Your Side over the phone.
Forrest’s father, Ben Hooper, recalled the last phone call he had with his son, as he waited to cross Battlefield Boulevard South.
“I was just an exit away,” Hooper said. “‘You stay there buddy, I’ll come get you.’ I told him, ‘You wait for me or you wait for your aunt Beth and we’ll come get you. Don’t cross that road.'”
It would be the last time Hooper would hear his son’s voice.
And now he, and a heartbroken community, are searching for answers in the deadly hit-and-run.
That driver is still at large as local communities offer a growing reward for answers in that case.
The boy’s family was preparing to celebrate his 9th birthday next week.
Forrest, who was a third-grade student at Southeastern Elementary School, had just started his second year in the Boy Scouts and was building a bird feeder this week to earn his next badge. The school is bringing in grief counselors for his classmates.
“His shoe was sitting out in the road all by itself and I knew it wasn’t going to be good,” Hooper said.
He reflected on eight years of memories with his eldest son.
“He could tell you any dinosaur that ever was and who they are, who they got along with, he knew the personalities of the dinosaurs,” Hooper said.
Velociraptors were his absolute favorite.
Forrest loved Jurassic Park and had just bought his costume for Halloween. He wanted to dress up as Alan Grant.
Hooper’s youngest son, 4-year-old Jackson, was Forrest’s best friend.
Despite the tragedy, Hooper shared a glimmer of hope in the form of a 2 a.m. phone call from a local hospital.
“I got a call yesterday about Forrest’s heart and, if he could, if I was willing to help two other children live and use Forrest’s heart valves,” Hooper said. “They wanted my boy’s heart. It’s his best attribute.
“If he helped save two children so no parent has to do what I have to do right now, then go for it. Forrest would want that because Forrest loved to help people and that was part of the Boy Scout oath. He’s not here but he’s still living up to his oath.”
To the driver who took Forrest away, Hooper wants to know why.
Why didn’t they stop?
“He didn’t deserve to go on the side of the road like that, like a stray dog,” Hooper said. “You could’ve stopped. You could’ve tried.”
Forrest’s Boy Scout Troop will honor his memory by promoting him to the rank of Eagle Scout.
A number of Chesapeake businesses have also teamed up and are donating $60,000 toward a reward in helping find the driver who hit Forrest.
You can view a list of all of the reward donors on Hickory Towing’s Facebook page.