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Fatal Hit and Run in Trenton

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn.- Trenton Police are searching for the driver of a white truck which is believed to have hit and killed a 74 year old man. The man was collecting cans on the side of the intersection of State Highway 54 and U.S. Highway 45 Bypass on Friday.

"It's sad that somebody wouldn't at least stop to see if he was okay. I mean just to hit him and run off... I don't know if they were scared or what, but it's sad," said neighbor Samantha Walters.

Officers were dispatched to the intersection around 9:13 p.m. after receiving a report that a pedestrian was lying in the middle of the road. Police said the victim was pronounced dead on the scene and was later identified as Willie C. Rice, 74, of Trenton. Family members said Rice enjoyed walking and was there collecting aluminum cans to help clean up the neighborhood and raise money for his 9 year old grand-daughter's school.

" My daddy would bring them here, I would get the tabs off for him and put them in a zip-lock bag because over next two years that's what they will be doing at Kayla's school to help people who are less fortunate afford school supplies," said victim's daughter Vivian Rice.

Investigators said Rice was hit by a passing vehicle as he was walking down U.S. Highway 45 Bypass. Police said the vehicle which struck the victim left the scene and has not been located. Investigators believe the suspect was driving a white Chevrolet S-10, S-15 or Sonoma type pick up truck. Police told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News they were able to determine through evidence found on the scene and witness statements that the vehicle in question should have damage to the front passenger's side headlight.

"My dad didn't deserve that, no body deserves that. I don't care who you are," said Rice. "He would read the bible every morning when he got up. Then he would eat and go look for cans for Kayla. You don't just let a human being die like that and keep driving."

Family members told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that Rice was a loving father of 9 children, with 17 grandchildren. They said the impact of the truck was so hard it knocked off his hat, shoes and wrist watch. Drivers that did stop told family members on the scene that other drivers passed the body lying in the road too.

"Where's the decency for a human being? That's what I don't understand. If it was your mother or your grandfather you would want somebody to help you. Why would you leave him lying there? Anything could have helped to keep him alive," said Rice.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) were called to the scene to assist Trenton Police in the investigation. Trenton Police are asking anyone with information
relating to this investigation to contact the Trenton Police Department at 731-855-1413.
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