URBANA — Hit-and-run accidents are crimes like many others police struggle to solve. They say a lack of information and witnesses are the biggest hurdles they face.
There have been two incidents involving pedestrians in the last three months. Both remain unsolved.
So, how common are these types of accidents? Two families’ lives have changed drastically, all because of hit-and-run accidents.
“The family wants some closure on that they don’t know who did this to their loved one.”
Both cases remain unsolved. Urbana police’s Lt. Richard Surles says, often it’s because they leave behind little to work with.
“We rely upon victims to provide us with statements. We ask witnesses to provide us with statements or physical evidence, things like that.”
The crime involves a driver hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene. It’s something Lt. Surles says isn’t something they see too often.
“The struggles that we have with hit-and-runs are the same struggles we have with any other crime.”
Two open cases involve men who were hit; one died, the other continues recovering in the hospital.
“In these particular cases, if the only other person who was there was seriously injured or now dead, obviously we are missing that piece of the puzzle.”
54-year old Jeff Stacy was hit after midnight in the 100-block of East University, in August. He was left lying in the road. His family waited for him to recover, but he later died after days of being in the hospital.
“It’s hard to deal with when you don’t have the answer to what really happened and, how can someone run from that?”
Then, weeks later, 43-year old Jason Doggett was hit. He was washing windows outside Carle Hospital, also along West University Avenue.
“Why did you completely run him down like he was a piece of garbage and keep going and not care? Who does that?”
Doggett continues fighting for his life at the hospital. His fiancee says it’s time for someone to come forward and confess.
“Accidents happen, but when accidents happen and you don’t even stop out of concern? I don’t understand. Help me to understand.”
The stories of two men, two families and dozens of unanswered questions. Surles says, someone out there somewhere has the pieces need to solve the cases.
“They need to come forward. The situation is not going to get any better by sort of ignoring it and just hoping to get away with it.”
Last year, the department dealt with about 200 of these cases, but, as for serious accidents, they say these are the only two they’ve had since 2006: a woman was killed on Airport Road.
In the last year, there have been other fatal hit-and-runs across the area. Champaign police had a case of a 26-year old man killed while riding his bike, in January, on Olympian Drive. Charleston police have also been investigating the death of a 19-year old which happened outside a Mattoon hospital in May.