RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – Authorities have identified the victim of a deadly hit and run and his heartbroken family is now speaking out.
Richmond Heights police say 32-year-old Dawit Bekele was struck and killed at around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night on Highland Road near Trebisky.
His sister-in-law says Dawit was stepping out for fresh air, something the family started doing during the pandemic.
“He’s normally someone who would go out, come back, go out, come back, but when he left his phone behind and car keys, we just knew something was wrong so that was when we decided to call the police,” said Deidra Bekele.
The medical examiner confirmed his identity Thursday.
His injuries were so severe that he passed away almost as soon as EMTs arrived, but with a Good Samaritan by his side.
One neighbor called 911 and Hassan Handsome, who was driving home from dinner, stopped and sat on the ground next to Dawit.
“I was just sitting with him making sure that he was not alone,” said Handsome.
For that, the family is extremely grateful and said they want to thank both men for their kindness.
“It means a lot that, in his last moments, someone was there to comfort him,” said Deidra Bekele.
Dawit’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia. His father is employed at NASA and Dawit was just beginning to build his own beautiful life.
“He had two engineering degrees and was working for both Amazon and a medical company,” said Deidra. “He was a very loving, family-oriented person ready to start his own family and it’s just extremely heartbreaking that it ended so sudden and so quickly.”
Nobody saw the vehicle, but multiple pieces of it were left on the road.
Lt. Denise DeBiase says they couldn’t tell the color of the car from the parts, but they were able to determine the make and model.
“Car parts were left behind and it appears to be from a Chevy Malibu between the years of 2008 and 2012,” said DeBiase.
Investigators are hoping someone will see the vehicle and call them. They say it will most likely have extensive damage to the front hood and windshield.
“We’re reaching out to the community in the hopes that somebody would see a vehicle that’s heavily damaged and they don’t know where it came from,” said DeBiase. “To bring this person to our department so we can question how this happened.”
The family wants the person identified too, but they’ll never understand how anyone could just leave someone injured in the road.
“That’s what I’d want to know. Why did you leave? Why didn’t you put yourself in the shoes of the people who lost this amazing person?” said Deidra.
If you have information to share, please contact the Richmond Heights Police Department at 216-486-1234 or the RHPD detective bureau at 216-383-6309.
Funeral services for Dawit will be Monday, July 11 at 11 a.m. at First Assembly of God Church, 1370 Richmond Rd. in Lyndhurst. Read more here.