Cops: Teen admitted role in hit-run near Temple

Temple University lacrosse player Rachel Hall (left) was critically injured in a hit-and-run crash near the school's campus on April 29, 2015. Police have recovered the vehicle involved. (Photos from Temple lacrosse and Philadelphia police)

THE 18-YEAR-OLD man allegedly behind the wheel in the Wednesday night hit-and-run crash that critically injured a Temple University student told investigators he left the scene because he was "scared and panicked," police said yesterday.

Charges were pending last night for that suspect, who gave a statement to police admitting his role in the crash, said Capt. John Wilczynski, of the police department's Accident Investigation Division. His name was not released.

Investigators said the teen was allegedly driving his father's silver Mitsubishi Galant on Park Avenue near Diamond Street about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when he plowed into Rachel Hall, 22, as she rode her mountain bike near Temple's campus.

Witnesses told police that the car stopped briefly, but then sped off. Hall, meanwhile, was thrown from her bike, breaking her leg and suffering severe head injuries, police said.

The senior criminal-justice major - an honors student set to graduate from Temple later this month - was taken to nearby Temple University Hospital, where she remained last night in critical condition, police said.

No one answered the phone yesterday at her family's home in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County.

Hall is a goalkeeper on Temple's lacrosse team, according to the athletic department's website, and also serves as the treasurer for the university's sociology club.

Hours after the crash, investigators were contacted by the alleged driver's father, Wilczynski said. Police found the car parked outside the family's home, on Marvine Street near Poplar, and impounded it.

Wilczynski said the suspect and his parents were cooperating with the investigation.

"The family came forward and contacted police," he said. "They did the right thing."

During his meeting with investigators, the teen admitted that he only has his learner's permit, and that two other males were riding with him at the time of the crash.

Under state law, drivers who are not yet licensed must have someone 21 or older in the car with them - but, Wilczynski said, both of the teen's passengers were younger than that.

Investigators have turned the case over to the District Attorney's Office. The driver, who was not in police custody last night, will likely be charged with leaving the scene of an accident and related offenses, Wilczynski said. His passengers are not expected to face any charges.

No one answered the door at the suspect's home yesterday.

Wilczynski, commenting on the recent spate of hit-and-runs in the city, yesterday stressed the importance of conscientious driving. Two hit-and-run crashes, an hour apart, on April 13 claimed the lives of Latif Wilson, 4, and David Aliea, 2.

"This is the time of year when people are going to be out, and there are going to be accidents," he said.

"Crashes are not always the driver's fault, and the best thing to do is to stop and wait for police."

Wilczynski said yesterday that there were no updates in the investigations into the crashes that killed Wilson and Aliea.

- staff writer Emily

Babay contributed to this report.


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