Deadly hit and run in Brooklyn

December 14, 2009 7:18:53 PM PST
A 75-year-old man was killed in a hit and run crash late Sunday night in Brooklyn.It happened just before midnight at the intersection of 45th Street and 4th Avenue in Sunset Park Brooklyn.

"I saw the car lift up, and I thought he hit garbage," witness Anthony Dilone said.

But it wasn't garbage. And the image still haunts him.

"I saw him go, take a breath and that's when we all knew he was still alive," he said.

It was a catastrophic accident that left Hugo Jansen lying on the roadway gasping for air. An SUV had just hit the elderly man right in front of his girlfriend's home. Dilone was driving two cars behind the Suburban and stayed by Hugo's side until the ambulance came, but the father of four died at the hospital.

The driver of the truck never stopped, and police are looking for that person.

"I think that person has no morals, and if he has any dignity, he will turn himself in," Dilone said.

A similar sentiment echoed in Hugo's tight-knit community where he spent much of his time volunteering at St. Michael's Church.

"A gentle soul, always smiling, saying hi to me," neighbor Mary Pagan said. "We're going to miss him."

The incident happened around 11:30 p.m. Hugo had just left the home and was making the short walk up 45th Street towards his basement apartment.

Friends are convinced the driver of the SUV ran a red light, saying Hugo would never have crossed against the light.

"He had a problem with his hip, and he walked slowly," Pagan said. "He always waited for the light."

Hugo lived alone, was retired and often spent time with his buddies reminiscing about their homeland of Peru, but Luis Cruz says it was clear his friend loved America.

"All the opportunity that he had when he came to this country, how he worked hard to support his family," he said.