The Investigators

Jun 7, 2011 6:49 AM

Hit and run victims investigation

TUCSON - Here's a scary thought: in this country, one in five pedestrians killed by vehicles are the victims of hit and run drivers.
Fatal or not, in most cities, the number of hit and run accidents is on the rise.
Nationally, hit and runs are up close to 25-percent in just the last decade.
In Tucson, there were over 22-hundred hit and runs last year.
We found that as more and more drivers run from their actions, the victims suffer even more.

Lizzie Chittock is one of those victims.
She told us "it is really hard thinking about the fact that a human being, anybody, regardless of how drunk she was, could do something so horrible, could hit somebody."

Last Septemebr, Lizzie was mowed-down in a crosswalk on First Avenue by a hit and run driver, who police say was drunk. She spent two weeks in the hospital with broken bones.

"It's really quite strange to think that somebody could do that to another person and have no remorse," Lizzie said.

Marc Kane was also a hit and run victim.
His truck was hit by a man who police say was drunk. The other driver tried to get away, even as Marc lay near his truck, with severe injuries.

Marc said "I couldn't believe that somebody could do that, actually now that I do think about it, just how bad the accident was and for him to try to drive away from it, and all the debris all over the road, yeah, can't believe he tried running."

Authorities say there are different reasons why drivers leave the scene of accidents.
Many drivers have no license or insurance.
Others run to avoid paying for their actions, financially and socially.
And as in the cases of Lizzie and Marc, police said the offending driver was drunk.

Tucson attorney Elliott Glicksman told us he thinks the laws governing hit-and-runs should be changed, and made stiffer, like drunk driving penalties.

He said "the penalties are so stiff now that if you're drunk or you think you're drunk and you've hit someone, the penalty for hit and run is a lot less than the penalty for staying there and having to take a blood alcohol test."

Glciksman said too many hit and run victims suffer twice.
"And there is this anger and anxiety because whenever you walk down the street, you don't know 'is that the guy who hit me? Is he still out there?' Does he know where I live, and is he concerned about me identifying him? All these things go through crime victim's minds."

As for Lizzie, she said she rarely goes out anymore.

Marc faces back pain for the rest of his life, but he's starting to heal, physically and emotionally.
He told us, "now, when i think about it, i'm not so bitter towards him because he knows he messed up, it was just a huge accident."

The drivers who hit Lizzie and Marc are awaiting trial.
And both Lizzie and Marc are going back to school at the U-of-A.. after being forced to take time off.

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