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Wooster High Student Killed in Tragic Hit-and-Run Accident

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On the morning of October 29th heartbreak struck Northern Nevada.  Most Nevadans were just starting their day as many residents were enjoying a quick breakfast or cup of coffee before work. Children were dragging themselves out of bed or arriving at school, depending on their ages and class schedules. Sadly, however, as one student of Wooster High School in Reno, Nevada was walking to school, she was tragically struck by a pickup truck. The driver fled the scene of the accident, making it a hit-and-run situation, and leaving law enforcement and a traumatized community to pick up the pieces. [1]

Piecing Together the Evidence

For days, the Reno Police Department was forced to sort through evidence and witness statements without any concrete leads. Police were able to obtain surveillance video of the accident. The accident occurred around 6:30 in the morning on Harvard Way. The victim, Aliah Lucena, was struck while walking down the street. She was taken to a local hospital where she died of her injuries. The driver of the truck fled the scene, making it a hit-and-run accident involving a pedestrian. There was no clear footage of the truck he was driving, but police believed that it was a GMC 1500 standard cab pickup manufactured between 1988 and 1993. It had red running lights on the passenger side of the pickup that made the vehicle more distinctive. Police weren’t sure initially what color the vehicle was, but estimates ranged from black to maroon to red. One clue that investigators found encouraging was that the truck had suffered a broken passenger-side headlight which could be helpful in identifying the vehicle and driver. [2]

Over a week later, on Friday, November 7, police announced that they had made a breakthrough in the case. Thanks to a tip through the Secret Witness hotline, police found the truck that was involved in the accident. It was parked on the 7000 block of Deep Bay Drive in Stead, an enclave north of central Reno. In locating the truck, they also identified a person of interest. The person of interest is still being sought by law enforcement, and no arrests have been made in the case. [3]

Hit-and-Runs Nationwide

Hit-and-run collisions are defined as those in which at least one person involved in the accident flees the scene before sharing his or her contact or insurance information with the other person or people involved or before he or she properly reports the crash to law enforcement. Hit-and-run accidents can be disproportionately hard on victims because they make it difficult to identify the person at fault. This, in turn, makes it harder to seek damages in a civil legal action or even file timely insurance claims. Hit-and-run accidents can also result in increased suffering for the victims, both psychological and physical. The psychological trauma of the accident can be exacerbated because the victim may be tormented by uncertainty about who the other person is, who was at fault, and often times the inability to seek full medical remediation after the accident. The physical or medical implications of a hit-and-run can be profound:  a delay or complete absence of medical attention in the wake of an accident can be the margin between death and survival. [4]

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the rates of both hit-and-run crashes and fatalities are increasing. In 2015, the United States saw an estimated 737,000 hit-and-run crashes, with over 2,000 fatalities. This is equal to one hit-and-run crash happening somewhere in the country every 43 seconds. [5]

Likewise in Northern Nevada pedestrian fatalities are up county-wide, with a 100% increase of fatalities between Jan 1st and July 31st, 2019.

What to Do in a Hit-and-Run Situation

Even the most minor car accident can be a major headache to deal with. Even without injuries, there is always evidence to gather, law enforcement to contact, and insurance claims to submit. A hit-and-run accident can be even more difficult to handle properly, because one party isn’t around to share their information.

If you find yourself in a hit-and-run accident, get as much information about the driver, car, and the scene of the accident as you possibly can. Some things to look for include:

  • The driver’s license plate number
  • The make, model, and color of the other vehicle
  • The location of the accident
  • The time of the accident
  • Which direction the vehicle was headed
  • A description of damage to your vehicle and that of the other vehicle
  • Statements and contact information from eyewitnesses to the accident
  • Any other helpful details

No matter what, never try to follow the driver fleeing from a hit-and-run accident. Leave catching the criminals up to the professionals (in this case, law enforcement). Also, keep in mind that if you leave the scene of the accident, it could put you in a compromising position. You lose your chance to record evidence of the accident. Leaving the scene to chase the fleeing driver may mean you are driving in a damaged vehicle or delaying necessary medical attention. You might miss out on gathering eyewitness accounts, and it might put into question who is at-fault in the accident.

Always call the police and file a claim with your insurance company after a hit-and-run accident. The official report will help the police locate the other driver and will be useful when you file your insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

[1] http://www.kkoh.com/2019/10/29/wooster-high-girl-badly-hurt-in-hit-and-run

[2] https://www.rgj.com/story/news/crime/2019/11/01/truck-hit-and-killed-wooster-student-now-believed-red-maroon/4128657002

[3] https://www.ktvn.com/story/41291891/police-activity-near-deep-bay-drive-in-stead1

[4] https://aaafoundation.org/hit-and-run-crashes-prevalence-contributing-factors-and-countermeasures

[5] Ibid.

Image Credit:  Pixabay

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