OXFORD CIRCLE (WTXF) - Police say two sisters were killed by a hit-and-run driver over the weekend. According to family, they were struck just a block away from their new home.
As family members gathered outside a Philly rowhouse Monday to mourn, 4- year-old Hakim and 3-year-old TahJah seemed blissfully unaware that their mom was the subject of all this sadness.
"I have to break it down to them of why their mother's not here,” said the boys’ grandmother, Loretta Phillips. “I have to tell them."
Late Saturday night, 19-year-old Kimberly Phillips and her youngest sister, 10- year-old Loraya Braxton, were crossing the Roosevelt Boulevard at Large street, just a block from their new home. Police say the driver of a Jeep Wrangler-- speeding up to beat the light-- struck them both and kept on going. Kimberly died at the scene. Loraya died later at the hospital with Loretta by her side.
"I told her she was strong in life and she's going to be strong in the afterlife."
Police say the driver of the Jeep, 48-year-old Kenneth Ruch of Philadelphia, returned to the scene and was arrested and charged with Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence.
Surrounded by heartsick family members, Loretta Phillips said her oldest daughter was about to graduate from Overbrook High and was working at a nearby Popeye's. Her youngest was a 4th grader.
"They always was together,” said Loretta. “And they left together."
As for Ruch, the man police charged with drinking and driving, with deadly results, Loretta can barely contain her rage.
"You murdered my kids!” she said to Fox 29's Bruce Gordon. “You murdered them! Because you didn't think about what you was doing! You didn’t think about it. You didn’t think about who you was hurting!”"
It was Loretta who reached out to FOX 29 to tell her story and that of her daughter so they would not be forgotten as just another crime statistic or just another couple of anonymous victims.
“They have names,” said Loretta. “Kimberly and Loraya. And he will always remember them. To let him know the blood is on his hands."
Outside, Hakim and Tahjah continue to play. Someday soon, Loretta will have to explain to them why mom is not coming home.
She'd like the driver of that Jeep to explain why her daughters won't be coming home.
"He took something away from me and it was unfair. He took my babies."
The family started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.