DeKalb County

Driver in hit-and-run of 9-year-old playing in her yard turns himself in

LITHONIA, Ga. — The suspect in the hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a 9-year-old girl in her front yard has turned himself in.

Only Channel 2 Action News was there when Gabriel Fordham, 28, arrived. His attorney told Channel 2's Matt Johnson there is more to this story.

"He's apologetic and he wants to help this family get closure to this issue," Fordham's attorney, Ryan Williams said.

Williams says his client is sympathetic but there's more to the story. He said the crash only happened because Fordham was fighting off a carjacker inside of the car.

"Someone jumped in his vehicle with a pistol, put the gun to his face, made him drive, and the whole time my client was driving, he was kind of directing the path," Williams said.

Harrowing video showed the car careen across the grass in front of a home on Cherokee Drive in Lithonia around 7 p.m. Friday. The car hit Laderihanna Holmes, 9, who was playing with a friend.

Laderihanna was left with a fractured skull, a broken pelvic bone and other serious injuries. Alaysia Phillips, 11, hurt her foot in the accident.

Williams says the unidentified person in the white pants seen running away is the passenger and the robber who attacked his client.

"My client tried to take the gun from him, the guy hits him in the face, my client blacks out, and thats why you see the full fledge force of them going through a stop sign," Williams said.

Video shows that Fordham does stay on the scene until he noticed someone come out of the house with a gun and making threats.

"With emotions rising, he had no opportunity to stay there, without possibly being harmed," Williams said.

Williams said Fordham and his girlfriend, who owns the car, contacted police the same day of the crash and have been negotiating a surrender ever since.

"He has not been trying to hide in the shadows," Williams said.

Earlier Tuesday, Channel 2's Audrey Washington talked to Phillips about the terrifying moments the car barelled toward her and Holmes.

Phillips can be seen in the video running out of the way when she spots the car coming toward her and Holmes. Phillips went one way and her friend went the other.

Phillips said she doesn't remember getting run over by the out-of-control car, but she does remember seeing her injured foot.

"The only reason I woke up is because I heard screaming," Phillips said. "My foot got stuck between the car and the house.

Phillips is now using crutches because she was badly bruised in the accident, although it could have been worse. Her sneakers helped protect her from more serious injuries.

Phillips said her foot still hurts when she tries to walk on it.

Her friend, Holmes, wasn't so lucky. Her injuries will likely require her to relearn how to walk.

Wakena Timms, Phillips' aunt, said she is glad police know who hit the girls, but she still can't believe the driver and his passenger left the scene after the crash. Police said that after hitting the girls, the driver and his passenger grabbed some things from the car and ran away.

"How could you run over two little girls and leave the scene?" Timms asked. "You don't try to help or nothing?"

Police said Fordham will be charged with hit-and-run, failure to maintain lane, stop sign violation, serious injury by vehicle and reckless driving.


For Timms, its not that much of a consolation.

"The gentleman, I just want to know, what if that had been your little cousin? How would you feel? Would you want someone to leave the scene and leave them like that?" Timms said.

Timms is frustrated police had to launch a search for Fordham in the first place.

"You could have went and turned yourself in," Timms said. "Why make them have to hunt you down?"