Police are seeking the driver of a 2001-2003 Honda Civic two-door that struck and killed a pedestrian in north Modesto on Wednesday morning and then left the scene. The car will have major passenger and front-end damage, including a broken windshield.
Investigators also are working to identify the victim and find his family. He is described as a black male in his 60s or 70s, between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-6 in height, and weighing 167 pounds. The man has white hair and was wearing a plain blue baseball hat.
He had a house key in his pocket, said Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves, leading officers to believe he may have lived in the area and gone out for a walk.
The man, who apparently walked with a cane, was hit on Tully Road near Big Valley Grace Community Church, about 50 yards north of Palmilla Drive. There are no known witnesses to the crash, but evidence at the scene indicates the make and model of the car that struck the man, Graves said.
At about 5:30 a.m., a jogger called in 911 to report a man asleep, blocking the entrance to the church, Graves said. When officers arrived, they found the man with visible injuries and unresponsive. Lifesaving measures were performed, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The early investigation indicates the man was walking along the east side of Tully when he was struck by a vehicle traveling north.
The collision occurred shortly before 5 a.m., said Lesley Davila, who lives on Palmilla at Tully. She said she and her husband heard the impact but realized what it was only about an hour later, when police and other emergency responders arrived. A passer-by who saw the man's body had called 911, Graves said.
Police were investigating well onto the church property, Davila said. Graves said they likely were looking for anything thrown from the vehicle or victim upon impact.
Tully Road was closed for a few hours but was reopened at about 8:15 a.m.
This is the fourth fatal collision involving a pedestrian and vehicle in the area in just over two years.
The night of Nov. 12, 2016, a 69-year-old male pedestrian, Richard Jenkins, was struck and killed by a vehicle on Tully south of Snyder. The driver of the vehicle in that collision remained at the scene and cooperated with police. In front of the church, rocks painted in memory of Jenkins still were in the landscaped area in front of the church.
The night of July 30, 2016, a 67-year-old woman was struck by a vehicle in the 3700 block of Tully just north of Standiford Avenue. The driver of that vehicle also remained on scene.
And the night of Nov. 6, 2015, Glenn Blumm, 28, was struck and killed by a vehicle just south of Snyder. The driver of the vehicle, 53-year-old William Tonge, left the area but returned later on foot as police were processing the scene. He was believed to have been driving under the influence and was arrested and booked into Stanislaus County Jail on manslaughter charges.
A jury trial in his case is expected to begin next month in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
Tully Road north of Palmilla is "pitch black" at night, Davila said, and gets a lot of pedestrian traffic. The canal banks just south of the church are popular with joggers, who cross Tully there, where there is no crosswalk, she said. Homeless people also make camp beneath the trees along Tully at the canal, Davila said.
As for drivers, "People go through here at 100," she said.
The Davilas' daughter Madison, who's a junior at Beyer High School, said action needs to be taken to make the stretch of Tully safer for those who travel it and for residents. Streetlights and a blinking lighted crosswalk, like the one where the Hetch Hetchy bike and walking trail crosses Tully a bit farther south, would be great improvements, Madison said.
She said she'd also like to see increased police patrols because the neighborhood has had several burglaries.
Anyone with information on the victim is asked to call the MPD at 209-572-9500.
Anyone with information regarding the vehicle or suspect involved in the crash is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
Deke Farrow; 209-578-2327