“Hit and run” is such a cowardly crime – but it’s also a fairly common one in Tucson.

Photo (but not crash) by Ryn Gargulinski

This guy isn't running anywhere/Stock crash photo Ryn Gargulinski

When it comes to hitting a parked vehicle and taking off, we rank above the national average – but not by much, according to an Allstate claims study. Across America, drivers flee 69 percent of the time after hitting a parked car, while in Tucson it’s 72 percent.

Tsk, tsk.

Tucson also has a notable list of other hit and runs, whether it’s hitting dogs, trains, fixed objects, pedestrians or bicyclists and whether drivers leave them unscathed, damaged, injured or dead. From 2008 through January, drivers in Tucson were involved in 8,255 hit and runs of all sorts, or about 10 per day.

One of the saddest hit and runs within the last few years involved 2-year-old Billy Montoya. He was hit by a truck in the 5100 block of South Park Avenue the evening of Oct. 20, 2008.

Billy had been playing in front of his house under the supervision of a teenage relative when he saw his grandmother on the opposite side of the street and ran to meet her.

“The child didn’t make it two steps into the street,” now-retired Tucson police Sgt. Mark Robinson said in an interview at the time.

The boy died instantly. The truck kept going.

So what’s the deal with the large number of hit and runs? We have a few theories:

My friend would blame parked car hit and runs on Tucson parking lots, which he claims are laid out to resemble rat mazes or a the set of a bad driver’s ed movie. That may explain why so many parked cars are hit, but it still doesn’t explain why drivers flee after hitting them.

Some people are cowards. They don’t want face what they’ve done. As long as they quickly report their vehicle stolen and take it to the nearest chop shop, heck – there won’t even be any evidence. The man who nearly killed Tucsonan Lizzie Mead and her two greyhounds after slamming into Mead’s truck in late 2008 reportedly got out of his damaged vehicle, ran, and then called cops to report his vehicle stolen.

Some people are drunk. Being cited for leaving the scene of an accident is a lesser offense than being involved in a DUI crash. Thus, the drunks may be drunk but they are coherent enough to run away. Even if they are eventually nabbed to pay the piper, that payment won’t involve a DUI charge.

Some people may not realize they hit something or may not realize they caused damage. OK, will give a few the benefit of the doubt.

And the saddest theory of all: some people just don’t care.


Various Tucson hit and runs from 2008 through Jan. 2010:

Leaving pedestrian dead – 2
Leaving bicyclist dead – 1
Leaving pedestrian injured – 124
Leaving scene of crash where there were injuries – 610
Leaving bicyclist injured – 120
Hitting an animal and fleeing – 22
Hitting a train and fleeing – 4
Damaging another car and fleeing – 3,749
Damaging another car and fleeing (non-traffic) – 2,555

Source: Tucson Police Department

Note: Non-traffic would be the parked car.

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Any other theories on why people hit and run?

Do you have any hit and run stories to share?