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Hit-and-run victim asks driver to surrender

Elderly couple want driver to do the right, 'human' thing

Posted: June 7, 2011 - 7:17am

The victim of a hit-and-run driver Tuesday night is recovering, but said he would be doing even better if the driver of the vehicle that struck him would turn himself in to police.

“We don’t mean any ill will,” Juneau resident Manual Antonio Mendoza, 70, said. “We just want to believe in being human.”

Mendoza was struck in the 6500 block of Glacier Highway at about 11:10 p.m. after he had picked up his wife at Walmart. The elderly couple both work there, Mendoza has the morning shift, and his wife the evening shift.

“I always walk her home,” Mendoza said. “It is a nice time for us to have a walk together.”

According to a Juneau Police Department press release, Mendoza was crossing westbound just outside the crosswalk when he was struck by a sports utility vehicle traveling outbound on Glacier Highway.

A Walmart store video released to JPD and posted on their website shows the hit and run. The vehicle pauses momentarily after striking Mendoza and then speeds away. Witnesses also stated to the police the vehicle slowed after the collision and then accelerated rapidly away from the area.

“It was coming very fast,” Mendoza’s wife said. “I was able to get out of the way, maybe I am a little younger than my husband.”

She did not want to give her name for fear the driver may want to harm them, although she stated they did not recognize the vehicle.

“We don’t know where the driver may live,” she said. “He may live next to us. We are the victims. We don’t know what is in his mind.”

The impact grazed Mendoza and caused him to fall backward. He was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Mendoza has suffered what he explained as “a broken left arm and broken right leg.”

According to the victim he will miss approximately six weeks of work. His wife is currently on vacation leave to care for him but doesn’t know how much longer she can afford to do that.

“Walmart has been very good to us,” Mendoza said. “But the bills are going to pile up.”

The Mendozas have been in Juneau almost three years. Their families are in the Philippines.

“You must face the accident you did,” Mendoza’s wife stated to the driver of the vehicle that struck her husband. “We don’t want to be inhuman. Maybe you don’t want to be inhuman either. Don’t be afraid to talk to us, and everything will be OK. Lets talk.”

“We don’t think you did it intentionally,” added Mendoza.

JPD has several leads in the case and the investigation is ongoing. The video of the collision had more than 2,100 hits when it was first posted and numerous phone calls have come to the department with information on various colored vehicles matching the vehicle shown.

“At this point we are sifting through anything that came in and trying to see if there is something substantive that we can work off of,” JPD Sgt. David Wrightson said.

Anyone with information on the accident is encouraged to contact the JPD at 586-0600. the videos may be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpTmZsLcMoU and www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxvXrq-UtJ8.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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