A toddler darted out into traffic and was struck and killed by a private trash truck Friday in Southcrest, according to fire officials.
Emergency crews were called around noon to the 1300 block of S. 43rd Street.
According to Chris Fregoso, who witnessed the accident and called 911, a mother was sitting on a porch with two kids when the toddler started running out into the street.
The driver of the trash truck tried to put on the emergency brake but it was too late, Fregoso said.
San Diego police Lt. Ken Hubbs said 2-year-old Jiovani Louangxaysongkham was getting into a car with his mother and older brother when he spotted his father, Joseph, arriving home. The child ran to greet his father and darted out into traffic.
The passenger in the trash truck alerted the driver but the driver didn't have enough time to react, Hubbs said. At this point it appears the driver was not at fault, he said.
Police originally reported that Jiovani was three years old but later corrected the age. The child was about to turn three in July, police said.
The body of the child was pinned underneath the truck for hours as police investigated the accident scene.
"It's just heart wrenching, I was just shocked, I couldn't believe it until I got here," said Noy Jeophonexay, the boy's aunt.
"Both parents saw it too, there was nothing they could do it was just a split second, "Noy told NBCSanDiego.
Dozens of neighborhood residents had surrounded the family's home. News crews standing on the corner of 43rd and Keeler could hear the screams of Jiovani's mother coming from inside the home.
San Diego police, National City police and firefighters were on scene.
When San Diego police arrived, there was an altercation between family members and police officers. Jiovani's uncle allegedly punched an officer and knocked him unconscious. The officer was taken to the hospital. There is no word on his injuries.
The family members were handcuffed but not arrested, Hubbs said.
"We're saddened by the tragedy and our hearts go out to the family," an Allied Waste spokesperson said after the accident. "Our driver also has to be very shaken up by something like this."
Noy described her nephew as "outgoing and fearless." "It's too soon for him to go like that, I loved him a lot."
Noy said Jiovani's mother is 5 months pregnant.
Family members are asking for help paying for funeral expenses. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank to Jiovani Louangxaysongkham's account.