Dallas police: Tow truck driver hit pedestrian in fatal hit-and-run

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by CYNTHIA VEGA & STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on July 26, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 12:25 PM

Hit-and-run death

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DALLAS - Police in Dallas have confirmed that a tow truck was involved in a hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian in the 2700 block of East Ledbetter Drive.

Authorities said the driver struck the pedestrian failed to stop and render aid. A spokeswoman with the Dallas Police Department said authorities have questioned the tow truck driver, but have not released his name.

The victim has been identified as 41-year-old Juan Steele.

Dallas police said a second vehicle also hit Steele and also did not stop to render aid. Authorities said they have not identified the driver or vehicle yet but are working with witnesses.

Witnesses said a tow truck driver was leaving the Oasis Apartment complex shortly before 6 a.m. on westbound Ledbetter Drive and rounded a median into the eastbound lanes when the accident happened.

The witnesses said Steele's ran to a median and then into the street in an attempt to flag down the tow truck driver as his car was being towed.

"He was saying 'Stop,'" said Jazzmen Beaird, a witness. "He was waving his arms and screaming 'Stop' in the middle of the street."

The witnesses said the tow truck then ran over Steele, appearing to be intentional.

"The front of the tow truck hit him," Beaird said. "Ran him straight over and left him and kept going."

"There's no possible way they could have not seen him," Beaird added. "He was waving his arms.  They didn't swerve over. They just kept going straight."

Anthony Smith, another witness at the scene, said the tow truck driver pulled over momentarily.

"I guess he was checking to see how much damage was done with blood all over the car," Smith said. "I don't know what he was looking for but he looked on one side and looked on the other side."

Witnesses also watched as a second car hit the victim and then also left the scene.

"A car had just hit the man again," Smith said. "So, I stopped the cars from hitting him again."

Steele was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators gathered evidence at the scene, where a trail of blood and a lone shoe remained.

Dallas police went to a nearby impound lot where it's believed the victim's vehicle was taken after it was towed. Authorities were at the lot interviewing more witnesses into the early afternoon.

A two-door, silver sedan, which was the same description given by witnesses of the victim's car, could be seen hauled from the lot later in the morning.

Apartment residents said towing has become common at the complex, where renters and visitors must display parking stickers. 

"My mother and I live here," said Orlando Payne. "... Caregivers come here and they have to worry about their cars being towed."

WFAA.com's Marjorie Owens contributed to this report

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