Five months ago today she died. As I ponder a life snuffed out, I wonder, "Does anyone care?"

       I don't mean her family. They care, very much. Her friends. They care.

       But law enforcement. The people who are supposed to stop things like this from happening. Do they care?

       It was the evening of February 10, 2022 when disabled senior citizen Wendy Hall left the Family Dollar in Westmorland CA and rolled across the street in her wheelchair with the intention of heading home with her small bag of groceries.

       She never made it. The street she had to cross was the busy four-lane Highway 86 that many people use to travel to the sand dunes. Maybe she didn't look before she crossed. Maybe she thought she had time. Maybe, due to her failing eyesight, she didn't see the truck with the trailer barreling down on her.

       Whatever the reason that caused her to wheel out into the traffic, the driver of the light gray or silver pickup truck would have seen her, if not in time to stop, surely at the last minute. And if even not then, perhaps he was a distracted driver, or perhaps under the influence, he surely would have known when his truck collided with her wheelchair, nearly severing her right leg at the groin.

       The driver? He obviously didn't care. Just continued on his way, leaving 68-year-old Wendy lying in the street bleeding to death next to her mangled wheelchair.

       Off road enthusiasts on their way to the sand dunes, Randy and his girlfriend, were mere seconds behind the driver who did this to Wendy. They stopped their motorhome as quickly as possible, using it to block traffic, to protect the woman lying in the street, possibly dying. While Randy kept the motorhome under control bringing it to a safe stop, his girlfriend got 911 on the phone to report the tragedy.

       Seconds later looking up, the pair were stunned to discover the driver was nowhere to be seen. Not only had he not pulled over at the scene, the vehicle was not anywhere on the highway continuing his journey. Had he turned off on a side street, possibly hoping to avoid cops in the next town watching for his vehicle?

       He needn't have worried. No broadcast was sent out to neighboring law enforcement. Checking with CHP and Sheriff's Departments in the Imperial Valley, the people I spoke with had no record of an alert that evening regarding a hit and run.

       When questioned about this, the Westmorland Police Chief said they had been unable to get an accurate description of the vehicle to notify law enforcement authorities throughout the valley to be on the lookout for this vehicle. Yet when interviewing the witnesses first on the scene I was given a very accurate description of a pickup truck, silver or light gray in color pulling a black or gray utility trailer. Surely this would have been enough of a description for law enforcement throughout Brawley, Imperial and El Centro to be watching for the vehicle.

       Brandie Dahm, the first responder arriving at the scene, was horrified to discover her mother's broken and bleeding body lying in the street. Momentarily frozen in shock, her partner arrived a few minutes later, grabbed her hand and urged her to focus. With his encouragement she was able to assess the situation, stop the bleeding and prepare to have her transported to a hospital for emergency surgery to save her life.

       The small town police department didn't put out the call to neighboring law enforcement agencies for help. Rather than knowing the highway traffic was blocked or re-routed by the trained CHP or Sheriff's Department officials, instead Brandie's son-in-law and his brother, drivers for a local towing company, moved their tow trucks onto the highway to alert oncoming traffic to the accident scene. Brandie also relied on other local townspeople for help. They offered assistance holding her mom up, holding the flashlight while she worked on her mom, and a young man working at the Family Dollar brought towels to help soak up the blood.

       For the next six weeks Wendy was subjected to multiple surgeries, spending the majority of that time in the hospital. After a brief time of rallying she took a turn for the worse and continued downhill until the day she passed away on March 20, 2022.

       It's unclear the time frame but shortly before or after her death the police department marked the case closed. Apparently finding the person who did this to her, causing utter devastation for the family left to pick up the pieces, was a low priority.

       "How will you catch the person who did this?" I posed this question to the police chief on my first conversation with him.

       "If he turns himself in," he said and refused to give me witness contact info, saying that they were likely too traumatized to discuss what they saw with me. A fact later disproved when we found another way to reach them.

            Sixteen miles to the northwest there are cameras that photograph and video every vehicle passing through the Border Patrol checkpoint. Approximately sixteen minutes before this monster plowed into Wendy and left her bleeding body in the street, his vehicle was photographed or captured on video. Yet no one can seem to figure out who this person is.

       "Fatal hit-and-runs increased by 44% from 1,342 in 2010 to 1,939 in 2019," according to a July 2021 report on "The worst state for fatal hit-and-runs is California. From 2010 to 2019, 2,948 fatal hit-and-runs resulted in 3,056 deaths."

       When I asked the police chief if it's possible it was a local member of the community, he immediately and confidently said no, it could not be. Yet if he doesn't know who it is, how can he so definitely know who it isn't?

       A woman dead. A family devastated. A crime unsolved.

(1) comment


My brother-in-law died the same way in 1997. The driver was never found. Ee have to leave it in God's hands.

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