Authorities identify hit-and-run victim -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Authorities identify hit-and-run victim

November 20, 2005

Lee County-- The man struck in a deadly hit and run in Lee County has been identified. 39-year-old Stephen J. Collins was found dead beside US 19 Friday morning just south of Forrester Parkway. Troopers found part of a Ford Explorer at the scene. It led them to a suspect but still no charges as of Sunday night. Stephen's family wishes the driver would have just stopped or made a call.

"If anything ever happened to him, I said I don't know what I would do," says Hattie Mae Sibley. Hattie Mae Sibley's worst nightmare became reality when she heard the news her nephew was the victim of a deadly hit and run. "He was a son, he was like a son to me," says Sibley.

Because Stephen Collins was what the family considered special, Hattie Mae Sibley served as his guardian. His family calls him fun-loving and energetic. "Stephen was just an everyday guy. Everybody liked him," says his cousin Mary Sibley. He often traveled as shown in a picture from a family trip to California. "He walks a lot anyway," says Sibley.

When he left home on Thursday, family members didn't know he wouldn't return. He left his home on Mercer Avenue after 6 p.m. Thursday night. That was the last time family members saw him. Now they want answers. "It was about 10:30 p.m. that he was hit and about 7:15 a.m. before a call was made," says Mary Sibley.

A passerby contacted police Friday morning when they saw Stephen's body beside the road but family members don't understand why the driver who hit him didn't stop. "I really think that was just cold and I really don't want to say anything negative about the person because I don't know. Anything could have been running through her head," says Mary Sibley. They feel that even an anonymous call may have saved his life.

"Anybody can have an accident but for her not to have called, we'll never know that he could have been saved, says Mary.

The family now has to continue their lives without Stephen and pray for closure. Mary says, "Our prayers are with the lady that hit him too because we don't know what she's going through." They'll always miss the family member they called a friend. "He was a good child," says Hattie Mae Sibley.

The vehicle part found at the scene led authorities to a mobile home park on Lover's Lane Road where they found a Ford Explorer with extensive front-end damage.  The vehicle belongs to a Lee County woman.  Authorities with Georgia State Patrol are still investigating. The driver of that SUV hasn't been charged.



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