Man Killed, Woman Injured In Early-Morning Hit-And-Run
Witnesses: Van Plowed Through Homeless Camp
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are looking for the man behind the wheel of a van that drove into what police are calling a homeless camp in the Argyle Forest area, killing one man and putting a woman in the hospital.
Detectives said that just before 2 a.m. Monday, a man who had visited a homeless camp near the corner of Argyle Forest and Blanding boulevards got into a minivan, drove down a hill and struck a man and woman asleep in a tent.
"We were sitting around the fire, and then 'bam,'" said witness Robert Pope.
He said it was in that instant that he lost his best friend -- Timothy Wuellenwebber.
Pope said at the time of the crash six people were sharing the warmth of a fire and some beers at the makeshift camp.
"This is where Wuelly was laying, and my girlfriend Mary was here. I was sitting here," Pope said.
He said a visitor at the camp, who went by the name Matt, got behind the wheel of a white van that was parked on the hill. He said instead of putting the vehicle in reverse to leave the man stepped on the gas.
"He stomped on the gas, and when he did it it came straight and crashed through. It hit me in the shoulder and I spun around over the fire. Then, I saw my girlfriend Mary's arm," Pope said.
Witnesses told police they saw the driver of the van running from the scene. Police searched the area, but could not find the man.
Pope said he frantically waved down someone to get help.
"I said, 'My girlfriend is trapped under the vehicle, please just call 911,'" Pope said.
However, when paramedics arrived it was just Pope's girlfriend who was hurt. Pope said he saw his friend's feet and knew something terrible had happened.
"I knew. I knew right then that he was gone. There was nothing we could do," Pope said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Wuellenwebber died at the scene. The woman injured was transported to Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center with serious injures.
"The driver of the white van was described only as a white male with dark hair, 6 foot 2 (inches), real thin, was seen leaving the scene on foot just after the crash occurred," Detective Robert Peck said.
Police had the van towed to the crime lab to be processed.
Police asked anyone with any information to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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