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‘Dying alone seems so sad’: Social media post helps identify hit-and-run victim

Russell Angel, 30, died before his family even knew he was in the hospital

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man struck by a car in a hit-and-run last month and rushed to a hospital was in the intensive care unit for weeks, but no one knew who he was.

His photo began circulating on social media by someone asking if anyone knew who the man was, saying, “Dying alone seems so sad.”

Unfortunately, the man did die before his family even knew he was in the hospital, but social media led to the man being identified as 30-year-old Russell Angel, who lived in Jacksonville.

“He never gave up on himself,” said Matthew Duty, Angel’s cousin. “He always tried to better himself.”

Duty, who’s in Virginia, told News4Jax on Thursday that he and his family found out Monday that Angel died.

“What bothers me the most is like, you know, just imagine him in the hospital, you know, alone and stuff,” Duty said.

Duty said Angel’s mother lives in Jacksonville and filed a missing person report when she couldn’t find her son, who didn’t carry a phone.

“He doesn’t need a cellphone or anything else to make him happy,” Duty said. “He can make light of a situation no matter what.”

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, on June 14, a car traveling east on Beach Boulevard hit a pedestrian who walked in front of the vehicle, causing life-threatening injuries. Angel didn’t have an ID on him. The driver left the scene, but authorities later found him. The Highway Patrol is still investigating.

But Angel’s cousin still can’t believe what a stranger did.

“This one fellow, he went above and beyond,” Duty said.

Someone took a photo of Angel in the hospital, posted it to social media and asked anyone with information about him to come forward, saying, “Please share. Dying alone seems so sad.”

Photos of Angel’s distinctive tattoos were also posted. When Duty saw those, he knew it was his cousin. He said he’s grateful so many people shared the post.

“I really give it to Jacksonville. You know, with everything going on with the pandemic and stuff, you know, people found the time to, you know, they could have had loved ones in the hospital with COVID or some other illness or disease, and they took the time to share this and just try to find where he belongs and where his loved ones are at,” Duty said. “That really speaks a lot for Jacksonville as a community.”

Duty said if it weren’t for social media and Angel’s tattoos, his cousin’s death would still be a mystery.

Duty said he’s sorry Angel was in the hospital so long alone but he’s grateful to the person who went out on a limb to try to help.


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