RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Ten years later and the thought of it is still painful.
Dwight Smith Jr.’s family holds on to hope that their prayers are answered, and justice is served.
“The motivation to get him justice is what keeps us coming back each year,” said Alexis Crudup, Smith’s sister.
In 2013, Smith was struck and killed on Pettigrew Street in Raleigh. Police told CBS 17 at the time that the driver never stopped.
According to our most recent numbers from the Raleigh Police Department, officers have investigated more than 1,650 hit-and-run wrecks this year.
Those incidents range from minor damage to pedestrian-involved crashes.
CBS 17 asked about what makes drivers flee the scene of a wreck.
“I feel like a lot of drivers panic. Initially, they know they have done something wrong,” Telana Poe said.
Poe is a personal injury attorney with the Whitley Law Firm.
“You never want to say people are bad. I think that people they know they’ve done a bad thing and they don’t want to deal with the consequences, and they think they can get away with it,” said Poe.
Her advice to drivers is to stay at the scene. Also, make sure you’re not injured and cooperate with law enforcement and paramedics.
“A conversation that we commonly have with our clients is how important it is to make sure that you have as much insurance that you can reasonably afford,” Poe said.
She said that even goes for pedestrians who become victims.
“Even as a pedestrian if you are injured by a vehicle that hits you and runs, if you’re on a bicycle, your own motor vehicle coverage can still come into play and still help you out with those medical bills even if you were not actually in a vehicle your coverage follows you as an individual wherever you go,” explained Poe.
In the case of a tragedy, Poe said the conversation surrounding insurance and compensation with families can be difficult as they work to often times get justice.
“No matter how much money we’re able to get we have to keep in mind there’s nothing we can do to bring the victim back. So, first and foremost we have to be there as a support system,” Poe stated.
In North Carolina, depending on the circumstances, if a driver leaves or stays at the scene, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.