On victim's 16th birthday, police searching for leads in deadly DeKalb hit-and-run

A teen who lost his life in a hit and run would have turned 16 on Monday. DeKalb County police are still searching for the driver responsible for the deadly crash and are now offering a cash reward.

Quartez Mender's mother said she was grappling with the idea of planning her son's funeral and not his 16th birthday party. His loved ones and police are using his birthday as an opportunity to ask for the public's help finding his killer.

"Even if they didn’t know they hit him they knew they had hit something. They could have stopped and helped him. They probably could have saved him. He laid out here," Malaika Kulenga, Mender’s mother said.

Kulenga’s 15-year-old son was struck and killed by a passing vehicle near the entrance to the Orchard Walk Apartment along Flat Shoals Road near Wellington Court around 2 a.m. on Sept. 1. Family members say Mender was coming from a nearby gas station. The driver never stopped, police said.

"He went home and went to sleep. Mine went to the morgue," Kulenga said.

In the weeks since his death, DeKalb County police have doubled down on their search for the driver. The department posted a message to the public on their Facebook page Monday on what would have been Quartez's 16th birthday. They're offering up $2,000 to anyone with information on the case.

Balloons for a memorial on the DeKalb County street can't compare to balloons for a birthday. But police and the teen's family hope this added financial incentive for tips will bring some sort of justice to a heartbroken family.

"I gotta still go up and down this street knowing that my son died on this street," Kulenga said.

Police believe the vehicle involved should have damage to the front passenger side. 

Anyone with any information is urged to contact the DeKalb County Traffic Specialist Unit at 770-724-7610 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS.

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