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Hit-and-run reports on the rise in Evansville

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Officers with the Evansville Police Department say they are seeing an increase in hit-and-run crashes, compared to June 2020.

Special Projects Coordinator Officer Taylor Merriss says the department is getting about 100 reports a month.

“But then again, the first two months from last year and this year,” says Officer Merriss, “they were the same. Then when COVID happened, they went down last year. So right now, it’s not necessarily that we’re seeing more, I think it’s just that we’re getting back to what it used to be.”

With about 100 reports a month, the hit-and-runs officers are seeing various incidents, from major accidents to simple sideswipes.

“In a lot of them, I think it’s mostly people being distracted,” says Officer Merriss, “either on their phones when they shouldn’t be, or just listening the radio and not paying attention in general.”

Officer Merriss says there are many reasons why a driver could decide to run, but the punishment in doing so could be worse than sticking around.

“It is punishable by arrest,” says Officer Merriss, “and then from there, whatever happens in court.”

So what should you do if your car gets hit?

Officer Merriss suggests calling 911 as soon as possible, so officers gather any possible evidence before you leave the scene.

She says at the Evansville Police Department, there are two officers dedicated to working hit-and-run reports.

“The officer will document any damage,” says Officer Merriss, “if there’s any property left over from the vehicle that struck them, they will collect that.”

Officers will also look for any witnesses or surveillance cameras, but sometimes, there aren’t any. That’s when Merriss says officers will lean on the public for help.

“Anytime you are anywhere,” says Officer Merriss, “always be a good witness for anything, whether it’s crime or helping somebody out, just be a good witness. That’s all that we can ask.”

Officer Merriss says there are a couple other things you can do to protect yourself.

Be sure to park in a place you feel is safe, be cautious when you are driving, and always look out for the other guy.

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