Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hit-and-Run

Pedestrian injured by hit-and-run driver on Rt. 70 in Cherry Hill

Hit-and-Run

UPDATE: Binh Tsan died on Saturday. Police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver and ask that anyone with information about the vehicle contact the Cherry Hill Police Department Traffic Safety Unit at (856) 488-7820.

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I had just photographed a new Dinosaur exhibit being set up at the Garden State Discovery Museum yesterday and was heading over to photograph and continue my work on a video appreciation (look for it next week) of the wildflowers NJDOT and Cherry Hill planted to beautify the median on Route 70.

It was raining and I pulled over into the Barclay Shopping Center. I planned to shoot closeups of the flowers with raindrops and was debating which umbrella to carry. I worried I might distract drivers if I took my large multi-colored golf one.

I was in the westbound lanes of Rt. 70, and just as I turned left into the shopping center, I noticed a young man in a white shirt waiting to cross the eastbound lanes. I thought how just a few days earlier when I was on the median strip I had decided against wearing a bright orange safety vest.

Pulling into a parking space I looked up and saw the white-shirted man on the ground on the other side of the highway.
It wasn't him, but his girlfriend.

Michael Medina and Binh Tsan, both 25, had crossed together while returning from lunch at the Pho noodle house right behind me. I didn't even notice Tsan as I made my turn because Medina's shirt was so bright.

In my early years as a photographer for a small newspaper I listened to the police and fire radio, and chased many crashes and fire calls. Later on, working for an international news agency, I was relieved I didn't have to do that any more. Even when I came to the Inquirer, we only covered accidents when they caused big traffic problems that impacted lots of people. This was the earliest I have ever been on the scene of an accident. I still don't like photographing them.

By the time I looked up, there were other people helping the injured woman and I could see at least four people on cell phones already calling 911.

So I took pictures, but I stayed back, shooting from across the street. In a few minutes the police and EMT's began to arrive and I moved in closer, though still shooting with a longer lens so as not to get in anybody's way.

The first witness on the scene, Desiree Forbes (on the left, in photo above) a nursing student, was already helping the injured woman when I looked up. She put Tsan's sneakers behind her head and instructed her boyfriend to do CPR.

It was a hit-and-run. "He was wide-open throttle, foot to the floor. It was horrible the way the guy just drove off," one of the witnesses told Inquirer writer Darran Simon. Other witnesses told police the driver that hit the pedestrians did not try to stop. The car passed stopped vehicles as it traveled on the shoulder until it was out of sight.

Click here for Simon's story. More photos here. Tsan was taken to Cooper University Hospital where she was in critical condition. Police are still looking for the driver.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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