Boy with special needs killed in Collier County crash

NAPLES, Fla.- A 12-year-old boy with special needs was killed in a crash early Wednesday morning in Collier County, Florida Highway Patrol said.

State troopers say Nicholas Pearo was hit by a dump truck on Immokalee Road near Northbrooke Drive just before 5 a.m.

Pearo darted into the road, directly into the path of the dump truck, according to investigators. The 12-year-old had a disability and wandered away from his home early Wednesday morning, troopers said.

Pearo was taken to North Collier Hospital with critical injuries and later died.

His death left neighbors heartbroken.

“It was terribly tragic to hear that this morning,” said Hilda Gilbert. “It’s devastating. I can’t even imagine what his parents have to be going through right now.”

Pearo took art and theater classes at House of Gaia, a local non-profit family learning center. It was there that Salmia Silverman said she met Pearo.

Silverman said she hopes that Pearo’s family receives messages of love and strength.

“Our hearts are with you. That you’re not alone in your grief. You have support. You’re being embraced and we send all of our love, all of our light, to everyone,” Silverman said.

Detectives say alcohol was not a factor in this crash. The 54-year-old driver of the dump truck was not injured nor charged, according to Florida Highway Patrol.

House of Gaia is collecting food, and gift cards for groceries and for Pearo’s family and Royal Palm Academy is collecting check donations.

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