St. Croix motorist who stumbled upon victim of fatal hit-and-run speaks
Published: August 20, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Jasmine Hodge left her house a half hour earlier than she usually does to go to work Sunday morning, and as a result of her early departure, just after dawn she found a 4-year-old boy wandering in the roadway in the rain and possibly saved his life.
Hodge found the boy near Five Corners, just moments after his grandmother was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver a few yards away.
The woman who was killed was identified Monday as 59-year-old Naldine Foster Hector.
V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said Monday that police still are seeking the driver involved in the fatal accident and that the vehicle may be a dark-colored Suzuki Vitara, Grand Vitara or Sidekick that sustained front-end damage. That could include damage to the bumper, the front grill, the hood, windshield or damage on either side panels or doors, according to police.
Police have asked body shops and car repair businesses to call them immediately upon seeing a vehicle fitting this description and also are appealing for information from anyone who saw the incident or anything unusual, Rames said.
"Everyone in the community should be on the lookout for a vehicle meeting this description while driving the island, in your neighborhoods, around your work or shopping area," she said.
Police also are urging the driver who hit Hector to come forward, Rames said.
Hodge said she typically goes to work at 6 a.m., but because of the heavy rain that was falling she got up earlier and couldn't go back to sleep, so she got ready and left the house.
Hodge said she left her home near Midland Road and traveled east up Morning Star Hill and Northside Road, and when she got to La Grande Princesse, she thought about turning to go towards her brother's house to drop off her niece.
However, Hodge changed her mind, and instead began traveling toward Five Corners, thinking that she would have her brother pick up the little girl later in the morning.
Hodge said the power was out and the traffic lights were flashing and as she crossed over from Rattan Road, through Five Corners, she saw the boy.
"As soon as I came up under the light, by the school, I saw this little person just wandering along on the sidewalk, like he didn't know what to do, if to cross or where he was going, so I stopped," she said.
Hodge said she was hesitant and felt confused as she stopped her Lincoln Navigator because it was ludicrous to her that a child would be on the road alone in the storm so early in the morning.
"It was still raining, and I said, 'Hey, Papa, what you doing out here?' " she said. "Then I scooped him up and put him on my front seat."
Hodge said she was reluctant to stop, thinking it could have been some sort of robbery trap, but she put her fears aside and she did what she knew was the best thing for the boy.
"His little yellow raincoat was wet, and I could tell he was scared, I asked him 'Where is mommy?' and he told me she was dead, my heart just sank and my eyes opened wide," Hodge said.
She drove slowly up the hill towards Christiansted headed to the police station with the child, but not too far away, just off the road, she saw the woman, injured and not moving.
"I saw her near Dr. Jett's Office and Golden Rock Apartments, near a shortcut. She had on a black dress and a wig, but I was so scared. I just told him that we had to go get help," Hodge said. "I talked to him all the way and kept him calm. He said his name was Trey and that his daddy was home."
She drove to the station and got help from an officer, who followed her back to the scene and even then, more than five minutes later, no one else had stopped.
"This was the most traumatic experience for me, and I'm sure the little boy will never forget it," she said. "Once other police came, they took him so they could determine who they were and who the family was, and I asked if I could leave."
Hodge said she thinks of the little boy and has not been able to sleep since the incident. She said she is thankful for whatever intuition brought her along his path at that right time.
"I could have gone to work my regular time. I could have stopped at my brother's house. I could have not even seen him, but I'm glad I did and I hope everything will work out for him and his family," she said.
Rames said the case is under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Unit and Traffic Investigation Unit.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.