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Cousin speaks as search for driver continues

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Only on ABC 57 news, we’re hearing from the cousin of the driver police are searching for in connection with Tuesday afternoon’s deadly hit-and-run crash. The prosecutor says 26-year-old Reka Phillips is only being charged, because she left the scene.

He says she didn’t do anything wrong—until she decided to leave that scene.

That’s why she’s being charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash.

The prosecutor held a press conference Wednesday to get the word out that they’re still searching for Phillips.

See her picture above.

The hunt started Tuesday afternoon—a little after 2:30—after who police to be Reka Phillips was driving a Chrysler 300 southbound on O’Brien Street when she hit a Dodge Durango carrying a grandmother and her three grandkids.

They had been traveling eastbound on Vassar Avenue when they were hit.

Six-year-old Maliyah Davis was pronounced dead on scene.

Wednesday, ABC 57 knocked on the door of an address where it was believed Phillips lived at one point in time.

Her cousin answered and confirmed that she had lived there in the past, but does not any longer.

She said she hasn’t heard from Phillips in weeks, but she can imagine she was overwhelmed by what she saw at the crash site and took off.

“It’s a hard time, like for everybody, because it’s a hard situation, you know it’s a death, like this can’t really be explained,” said Phillips’ cousin, Kristi Lash.

The prosecutor says the surveillance footage taken by a neighbor’s cameras shows that Phillips wasn’t doing anything wrong—while driving.

“She had the right of way. She was going through the intersection. There was no stop sign for her. There was a stop sign for the cross street, and for whatever reason that crash occurred, but she was traveling at a safe speed… If she would have stayed, there would be no criminal charges against her,” said St. Joseph County Prosecutor, Ken Cotter.

She didn’t stay, however; witnesses say she ran.

“She didn’t do anything wrong in causing that crash, but because she did not stay, she’s been charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash,” said Cotter.

“She’s a mom, so that probably freaked her out no more than anyone else, because she probably seen her son in that situation, so yeah, she left,” said Phillips’ cousin, Kristi.

“Crashes happen. Accidents happen. Not all accidents are crimes---Frankly it’s a plea to anyone who’s involved in a crash, stay. I would personally hope that you would render aid, but you’re not required to. But you are required to stay until it’s investigated,” said Cotter.

Phillips’ cousin says her family is working to track her down, too.

 “This is my cousin and we love her, so we’re going to try to figure out what’s going on,” said Lash.

Police have a warrant out for Reka Phillips’ arrest with a $20,000 bond attached.

There’s also an order to detain, because she was on parole or probation for a prior charge.

If you have any information on Phillips’ whereabouts, please contact police or Crimestoppers at 574-288-STOP.

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