BENTON, Ark. — The casket is now closed but the investigation is still open into the death of a 13-year-old in Benton. Saturday, Family and friends remembered the teen’s life.
On January 15, Benton Police Officers found Zarious Evans unresponsive at the 19000 block of the south service road near the Highway 5 overpass and launched a hit-and-run investigation.
Zarious Evans was an eighth grader at Benton Junior High School. The packed chapel made apparent Evan’s had many friends, and he held a lot of respect for his play on both the basketball court and football field as well as his aspirations to serve in the military as a member of ROTC.
Keith Rusk, Pastor at the Benton Seventh-Day Adventist Church, officiated Evan’s funeral. At one point, he couldn’t help but cry.
“This shouldn’t be him. It shouldn’t be him. He was 13,” Rusk said looking down at the casket.
The chapel was filled with hugs and tears Saturday afternoon. Many seats filled with teens still processing what happened to Zarious Evans.
“I couldn’t stop crying, and then I tried not to cry, but then when someone would give me a hug it would make me cry,” Lark Cruz, a school friend to Evans said.
Lark Cruz called Evans one of her best friends. She remembers him as a funny guy but also someone who always listened and included everyone.
When he passed, she had the idea to memorialize him by constructing a wooden cross signed by friends. It stood beside his casket as a reminder of what his family is holding onto as they let go.
“He’s gone, but I’ll see him someday,” Evan’s 14-year-old sister Zariah Evans remarked speaking at his funeral.
Some guests could not help feeling other emotions than grief. Mike Calvin first met Zarious Evans years ago when his riding mower broke down on a job to cut the lawn of Zarious’s grandmother, and Zarious insisted he helped with one of the backup push mowers.
“For someone to be that young, he was very respectful and very smart and willing to help, and it going to be a great loss that he’s gone because he’s never going to have that opportunity to show the world what he could do,” Calvin said.
As of Saturday, no arrests nor charges have been filed for the hit-and-run police suspect killed Zarious Evans. Authorities are aware of who the driver is.
In the incident report we obtained from Benton Police they name the driver, that person is a woman from Hot Springs, however, our station is not revealing her identity because no arrest nor charges have been filed.
“How could you do that and then not even check on him?”, Lark Cruz questioned.
On Saturday, we sent Benton Police another request for an update. Krista Petty, media specialist for the department sent a text saying:
“I discussed it with detectives a few days ago, and they are still obtaining and reviewing video as well as conducting follow-up interviews. It is still ongoing. The public sometimes misunderstands that to mean we aren’t doing anything with it, but rest assured, it is being thoroughly investigated.” -Krista Petty, Benton Police Department
“This is so frustrating. This is hurting my feelings to know this young man is gone at such an early age,” Calvin said after the funeral. “I hope the young man gets justice, the family gets justice. They deserve justice.
Benton Police say detectives will give the case file to the prosecuting attorney’s office when they’re done with their investigation. prosecutors will then review the case and recommend whether the driver should face any charges.