Bill Capo / Eyewitness News

NEWORLEANS-- The church was packed with friends and relatives trying to cope with his sudden death Friday.

'I'm deeply upset at what happened, the way that it happened,' said his brother, Stephen Baptiste. 'You know he was on his way to the airport to get me, to pick me up to bury my mother.'

Police say Mitchell Baptiste was driving towards the airport on Interstate 10 when a black Nissan hit his car, causing it to lose control, and smash into a guardrail and light post before bursting into flames. The other driver sped away.

'We have been friends for 25 years, and you know it's like it's unbelievable,' said friend and co-worker Tracy Banks. 'They told me about his mom had passed, and then when I heard he passed, I said what about the mom, they said the mom's funeral is tomorrow. I said oh God, how can that be?'

Mitchell Baptiste's mother was buried Saturday. On Monday, even though the coroner has not released his body, the memorial service was held because relatives were already in town.

So there were sad smiles and shared memories of a man who died too soon.

'Mitchell was a real sweet person,' said Banks. 'He looked out for everybody, helped everybody. He really loved kids, that was his thing, the kids. Have nothing bad to say about him, he was a great gentleman, good standing man, worked all his life, you know. He was a good man, and he's going to be missed by everybody.'

But coupled with the shock and sadness is anger. They want to know who hit Mitchell Baptiste, and why.

'The person that did it didn't even stop to consider anyone else, and to me that, and to me that's a selfish act,' said Stephen Baptiste. 'The only person they were thinking about was self. There wasn't no hope for my brother, but I mean, the least you could do is stop, and be concerned about this devastation that they caused. That's what's got me really upset about this.'

If you can help investigators in this case, call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.

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