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Family: Sidewalks could have prevented hit-and-run death

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Richmond police now have a better description of the car that might have hit a south Richmond father and then fled the scene.

It happened Tuesday night along Walmsley Boulevard near Dorset Road.

Police now say they are trying to track down a 1996 to 2002 Mercedes E-320 sedan. There may be damage to the windshield and the passenger side of the car. The vehicle would also have factory installed Bosch fog lights, one of which may be missing from the passenger side of the car.

While investigators continue to track down the driver, loved ones and neighbors in South Richmond continue to push for sidewalks in the area. Jeffrey Smith is the fourth hit-and- run victim in a four month span, according to Richmond police. The others happened on South 14th Street, Warwick Road and River Road.

Jessica Smith says her uncle’s death has devastated their family. She’s convinced sidewalks on the heavily traveled street would have made a difference.

“If we had the sidewalks that might have helped. It could have prevented his death,” explained Jessica. She tells us she waited on her uncle at the convenience store she works in just moments before he began walking toward his sister’s home.

About five minutes after he left, Jessica says someone came into the store and told her someone was down in the street. When given the description of what he was wearing, she dashed to the scene, and within minutes knew it was her uncle Jeffrey.

Now, through her pain, she’s pushing for something positive. She’s now rallying neighbors for a cause they’ve been concerned about for years.

Robert Shelton has lived at the intersection of Walmsley Boulevard and Dorset Road for twenty three years. He says he’s longed for sidewalks for a while, because so many people walk in that area to catch the GRTC bus.

“I’d like to see them do something with the sidewalks. This is the bus line and people walk here with their kids. I’d love to see something happen. There’s no safety here right now” he explained.

Nearby neighbor Patrick Bell echoed those same sentiments. “Walmsley is a dangerous road. Since I’ve lived here in 1997, I can’t count the amount of people that have been killed “lamented Bell.

CBS 6 News contacted the city about the safety concerns. Spokesperson Sharon North tells us traffic engineers did an estimate back in April to see what it would cost to install sidewalks on both sides of Walmsley from the thirty-three hundred block to the forty-seven hundred block. A project they presented to council, but it wasn’t funded.

North says the sidewalks alone carry a four hundred fifty thousand dollar price tag. The total project..including curbing, gutters and road widening would cost fourteen million

To these concerned neighbors and Smith’s family, the price tag doesn’t matter. Until they see change, they vow to continue the fight. “I have customers in the store already telling me they want to help. Hey, I have fifty people already willing to sign a petition. It takes a death to make somebody open up their eyes? I hope this is it and I’m going to make sure they do put sidewalks out here. It should happen, and it needs to” adds Smith.

Richmond police say anyone with information that can help them solve this hit and run case should call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

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