Danny Wake death: Police appeal to hit and run driver
A driver who knocked over and killed a three-year-old boy in Darlington would have "definitely known" they had hit a child, police said.
Danny Wake, of the Lascelles Park area of the town, was struck by the car on Monday while with his mother, brother and another child on Neasham Road.
He had been on his way home from picking up a Christmas toy catalogue to choose the presents he wanted.
A man held on Monday in connection with the death was released without charge.
Police said they did not now believe the 24-year-old, who was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, had any connection to the boy's death.
Ch Insp Ed Turner, of Durham Police, said: "On Monday morning three-year-old Danny, along with his mum, brother Georgie and another child had been making their way from Darlington town centre where they had been to collect an Argos catalogue so that Danny could take it home and choose his Christmas presents."
Offering his condolences to the family, he added: "I cannot imagine what they have been going through since the tragic events earlier this week."
Ch Insp Turner said the group was walking onto Falmer Road from Neasham Road when Danny strayed into the road.
The driver of the unknown vehicle failed to stop at the scene, after he fatally injured Danny.
"I would like to directly appeal to the close-knit community of Darlington to help us find out who was driving the vehicle that hit Danny," Ch Insp Turner said.
"I firmly believe that someone will have some information that will help us, I would ask you to take a minute and put your loyalties to one side and imagine what Danny's family are going through and contact us if you know anything.
"I would like to make it clear that we believe it is most likely that the person who hit Danny did it entirely accidentally, and realising what they had done, panicked and drove away."
Officers are studying hundreds of hours of CCTV footage in an effort to identify the vehicle.
They also appealed to passengers getting off the 13G bus.
Ch Insp Turner said: "I would appeal to those passengers to come forward. They may have important information that can assist our inquiries.
"A family have lost their three-year-old little boy in the most tragic of circumstances and they need to know why this has happened, please help us to find the answers they need."
The boy's family described him as "a beautiful, loving and caring little boy, always laughing with a cheeky little smile."