Family: Feud over a man leads to grievous Nicetown hit-run

Beatrice Spence was critically wounded when a woman she was arguing with slammed her SUV into her. (Family handout)

Beatrice Spence was grievously wounded, her life forever changed, over a petty argument about a man, her family said.

And to make matters worse, the house she grew up in is in ruin, burned by a chaotic fire that broke out while she lay broken on the pavement.

Spence, 24, remains at Einstein Medical Center, where she was taken by medics after another woman deliberately slammed her white Dodge Durango into her Friday afternoon as she stood in front of her home in Nicetown, police said.

The impact was so powerful, it severed her leg, according to Lt. Dan Brooks, of Northwest Detectives.

Meanwhile, police are searching for the driver of that SUV, who sped away as quickly as she arrived. The crash happened just before 2:30 p.m. on 17th Street near Wingohocking, Brooks said.

But to hear Spence's family tell it, the conflict that fueled it started much earlier.

Chevonne Johnson, Spence's cousin, said the woman allegedly behind the wheel, who the family only knows by her nickname, "Precious," has been feuding with Spence for the past few days.

Precious called Spence repeatedly, antagonizing her over a man Precious is dating, one who she believes Spence is also involved with.

But, Johnson said, the woman is just jealous, and her cousin is not involved with him.

Whatever the relationship, the spat got heated at 5 a.m. Friday, when Precious allegedly threw a brick through a window in the home that Spence shares with her mother, two younger sisters and niece, Johnson said.

The family filed a police report, Johnson said, and tried to move on.

But a few hours later, Precious called. She was coming to the house, she told Spence.

"She thought they were just gonna talk," Johnson said tonight, standing feet away from her cousin's ruined home. "She never thought something like this would happen. Who would?"

Spence stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of her home and waited. After a while, Precious showed up in her Durango.

About that time, Jayson Massey was in his own home, on the other side of 17th Street. He heard an engine rev up, then screams.

"I thought it was from the other side of my house, or even the highway," he said, referring to nearby Roosevelt Boulevard.

The sounds were followed by a crash, he said. Then, silence.

Brooks said the driver of the SUV sped down 17th and hopped the curb, slamming into the victim and pinning her onto the porch of her own home.

She then threw the car in reverse and sped away, turning onto Wingohocking.

Surveillance footage from a nearby corner store, reviewed by the Daily News, shows the SUV speeding up 17th and then, moments later spending back into view, in reverse.

Its front bumper can be seen dangling, scraping the ground.

Police arrived shortly after and tended to Spence, applying emergency tourniquets to her bleeding leg.

Her family, distraught, rushed out of the house to help as well. In their hurry, they left their dinner burning on the stove, Brooks said.

After medics arrived and took Spence away, investigators at the scene stumbled upon a second conflict: The stove, left unattended for so long, had sparked a massive fire in the house.

Fire Department personnel were able to extinguish the blaze without incident, Brooks said. No one was injured, including a few kittens that lived with Spence and her family.

But the house, and one directly next to it, is destroyed. Both have been sealed off by the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Spence's family doesn't care about that right now, however.

They're focusing on her recovery: she exited surgery a few hours after the crash, Johnson said.

And they want Precious, who police are scouring the city for, to be brought to justice.

"She better turn herself in," Johnson said. "If she does this and gets away with it, who else is she going to do this to?

"This is such a waste; there's no reason to do this to anybody over a man."