Fatal hit-and-run victim is Trenton’s second so far this year

A pedestrian was struck and killed in the Mill Hill neighborhood at the intersection of Market and Jackson streets Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (SULAIMAN ABDUR-RAHMAN - The Trentonian)

A pedestrian was struck and killed in the Mill Hill neighborhood at the intersection of Market and Jackson streets Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (SULAIMAN ABDUR-RAHMAN - The Trentonian)

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Vincent Miller.

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a motorist Saturday night, marking the second hit-and-run death to occur in the capital city this year.

Officials say the 30-year-old victim was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Market and Jackson streets around 7:40 p.m. when he was hit by a blue or teal colored Honda.

The man, whose identity is being withheld pending family notification, remained on the hood of the car for approximately 20 to 30 feet before rolling off and landing in the inner lane of Market Street, according to police officials.

Police say a Honda emblem was found at the crime scene, and that the vehicle leaked antifreeze, leading police on a trail that ended about a block away.

A witness at the scene said she was at a traffic light at the intersection of Market and Mercer streets when she saw a Honda with heavy frontend damage and a crushed windshield. She told police she then looked down the street and saw two additional cars swerve to miss something in the roadway. She said she realized the object obstructing the road was a man’s body as she drove closer to the accident.

Police say the woman called emergency 911, and medics were dispatched to the scene to perform CPR. But their efforts were not enough to save the man, who was bleeding heavily and died at the hospital about 30 minutes after the accident.

“Wow, that’s horrible,” Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, who lives in the Mill Hill section of the city where the accident happened, said.

The victim’s girlfriend told police they were inside a Mercer Street apartment when he left to purchase cigarettes at a nearby liquor store. When the man took longer than expected, she stepped outside and saw police investigating a crime scene.

The woman later went to the hospital and identified her boyfriend as the hit-and-run victim.

Police are in the process of obtaining surveillance video of the accident, and officials say it’s too early to know whether the driver or the pedestrian victim ignored traffic signals.

Caldwell-Wilson said that area of Mill Hill is prone to traffic accidents because of a long light, a short light, and the tendency for motorists to make illegal U-turns.

“It’s pretty dangerous,” the councilwoman said. “They’re making illegal U-turns while traffic is flowing.”

The light at the Mercer Street intersection is extremely long, the councilwoman said, while the light at the Jackson Street intersection is extremely short; so drivers often speed through the area trying to beat both traffic signals.

“People get impatient at that long light and run right through the next one because they don’t want to stop again,” Caldwell-Wilson said. “It’s been a problem for more than 15 years. The Department of Transportation needs to synchronize those lights a little better.”

So far this year, two people have died from hit-and-run accidents in the capital city.

If the driver of Saturday’s accident is located, he will likely be charged with death by auto.

According to the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit, vehicular homicides are considered manslaughter and are, therefore, not reported as a homicide statistic.

The Trentonian, however, includes death by auto and justifiable police shootings in its yearly homicide count.

This year’s homicide toll is now 24.

In total, five people have died from traffic accidents in Trenton so far this year, and 18 people have died in traffic accidents throughout Mercer County, according to state police statistics.

“I think we need to start more traffic enforcement,” Caldwell-Wilson said. “People pull out in front of you, they ride on your tail, they pull out of side streets without looking for oncoming traffic; it’s crazy. They really need to start clamping down on these folks.”

The witness described the driver of the Honda in Saturday’s accident as a skinny white or Hispanic male with dark hair. Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call the TPD Criminal Investigations Bureau at 609-989-4155.

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