FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Allen County Coroner's Office has identified the man who was found dead in a parking lot late Monday evening. It's believed Richard Max Hamilton, 57, of Fort Wayne was hit by a large vehicle as he was walking. The cause of death has been determined to be blunt force trauma.
Officers were dispatched to 3401 West Coliseum Boulevard at 11:48 Monday night and found Hamilton lying in a parking lot unresponsive.
Firefighters and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Officer Chris Felton with the Fort Wayne Police Department said investigators believe Hamilton was walking west through the "Ray's Truck Wash" parking lot when he was struck by a large vehicle.
"The [vehicle] left the scene," Felton told NewsChannel 15. "It is unknown if the [driver of] the vehicle was aware they struck the male or if they were aware anything happened at all."
Police said no witnesses have come forward and they do not have a description of the vehicle that might be involved.
Neal Burpee is the manager at Rays Truck Wash. He says a semi-truck driver initially spotted Hamilton lying in his parking lot.
"A driver was exiting and he said he thought it was a bag or garbage or something lying in the parking lot," Burpee said. "He stopped and called 911 saying there's somebody out here."
As police are looking for answers, the hit and run has left many folks around West Coliseum Blvd. questioning the safety of the truck stop area.
Mark Johnson is a semi-truck driver from Monroeville who frequently stops on West Coliseum.
"It's a pretty dangerous area out here. All the semi traffic and all the people walking from the parking lot into the buildings, you have to be extremely careful out here," Johnson said. "Especially at night, it's hard to see around the back of your truck and stuff like that."
There are three motels on West Coliseum. Many people walk along the side of the road to nearby businesses and back.
Russell Shafer stays at the Relax Inn and Suites on West Coliseum. He said he's even been hit by a car in the area.
"It's dangerous walking. It is. I wish they'd put sidewalks down through here. It's really dangerous," Shafer said. "They've got to put more lighting down through here."
Investigators are trying to determine if Hamilton was dragged at all by the vehicle, or if the driver attempted to avoid him. Felton said there is nothing to indicate the victim might have tried to avoid the vehicle.
Police do not know if drugs or alcohol were factors. Investigators have not determined how long Hamilton was lying in the parking lot before officers arrived.
Fort Wayne police say their best bet in tracking down the suspect in the fatal hit-and-run will be surveillance video. There was only one outside surveillance camera capturing night footage at Ray's Truck Wash. It was not pointing in the direction of the accident.
Police are looking for any other business that might have gotten surveillance footage of the hit-and-run. Detectives will also look through a nearby truck stop at dozens of tractor-trailers.
Felton admitted it is difficult to solve a crime without witnesses, especially something that happened at night and on a road without a lot of traffic.
"Anything can happen with any case. Sometimes a witness will come out a couple of days later and say they saw something."
Anyone in the area between 11:15 p.m. and 11:48 p.m. Monday, who witnessed something suspicious, is asked to call police.
The incident remains under investigation.
West Coliseum Boulevard was closed for several hours while police investigated. The road reopened around 2:30 a.m.
Police from several agencies have responded to multiple crashes overnight due to slick roads from a wintry mix that moved through the area late Sunday and early Monday morning.
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