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Mother anguished after toddler killed in hit-and-run in Fauquier County

A 2-year-old's mother says she is defending her father who is being blamed for his granddaughter's death.

WARRENTON, Va. — A Virginia mother is sharing her pain days after her two-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run in Fauquier County. 

Kassandra Dod said her daughter Aubree-Ann was in Warrenton to visit her grandparents over the weekend. The toddler was playing in the yard of the house when she wandered out into the road. 

Authorities with the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office said she was hit by a vehicle, but the driver did not stop and help. Other drivers were helping her in the roadway by the time deputies responded to the call in the 9400 hundred block of James Madison Highway. 

"She was the happiest baby who always put a smile on everyone's faces," Dod said. "She was born at 27 weeks so she fought really hard to be here."

RELATED: Man arrested after Fauquier County 2-year-old killed in hit-and-run crash, police say

Investigators said the driver was 65-year-old Jose Mendoza of Bladensburg, Maryland. Mendoza turned himself in on Sunday after deputies issued a warrant for his arrest. 

New court documents said a witness reported his tags which matched a 2002 Mitsubishi. An emblem belonging to the same model was found at the scene, the criminal complaint stated. 

Mendoza was being held in jail without a bond. He has been charged with Hit and Run Resulting in Death or Injury. His first court appearance is scheduled on Wednesday.

Credit: Fauquier County Sheriff's Office

Dod said she is now defending her parents, particularly her father, who is receiving blame for letting the toddler out of his sight. 

"It was an accident and it could have happened to anyone," Dod said. "He's going through this. Nothing was intentional." 

Neighbors described the highway as a normally busy and loud road that has seen its fair share of accidents. 

John Portillo lives across the street and said he knew something was wrong when it sounded eerily silent. 

"It was pretty much quiet," Portillo said. "I can hear tractor-trailer going by but that day, it was really quiet."

Aubree-Ann's family friend has created a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses. To learn more, click on this link. 

RELATED: Police: 66-year-old pedestrian killed in hit-and-run crash

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