Struck driver wonders when his case will be investigated. Never, it turns out.

WILLIAM BENDER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Drag racers line up on Enterprise Avenue behind Philadelphia International Airport, minutes before police arrive to shut down the illegal high-speed competition.
WILLIAM BENDER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Drag racers line up on Enterprise Avenue behind Philadelphia International Airport, minutes before police arrive to shut down the illegal high-speed competition.
Posted: August 20, 2013

WHEN Rodney Carroll heard about the suspected street racer who fatally mowed down a young Feltonville mother and her children as they walked across Roosevelt Boulevard last month, the tragedy upset him more than most newspaper stories would.

He felt sad for Samara Banks and her boys.

But he also felt outraged.

It had been less than a month since a drag racer smashed into him as he drove on the Boulevard one Saturday morning in June to pick his daughter up from work. The impact spun his sedan into a bridge wall, totaling it and leaving him with enough bumps and bruises that he's still sore today.

But unlike the driver who struck Banks and her family at 2nd Street on July 16, the dragster who hit Carroll's car near Fillmore Street on June 22 kept going. Carroll, reeling from the wreck, didn't get a good look at the guy or his car.

As a result: case closed.

"The cop said they're not investigating" to find the hit-and-run driver, Carroll said. "He said: 'If you had died, then yeah, we would have continued investigating,' " said Carroll, 56, a postal worker who lives in North Philadelphia. "He told me: 'Count your blessings, you're still alive!' Yeah, I'm counting my blessings, but look at my car! And these guys are going to get right back to racing on the Boulevard. Next time, they're going to kill somebody."

Lt. John Stanford understands Carroll's frustration. But in a city with dozens of car crashes a day, it's impossible for police to thoroughly investigate every one, he said. Drivers in Philly reported about 30,500 accidents in the first six months of this year alone, Stanford said.

"We respond to every one. We just can't investigate every one," Stanford said. "It's not that it's not important, because it is. But that's just the harsh reality of it: We have a city that has a lot more going on than auto accidents, so we have to dedicate more of our time to making our inner-city streets safer from violence."

Accidents involving fatalities, serious injuries, hit-and-run drivers and city-owned vehicles generally are handled by the Accident Investigation District, AID Sgt. Joseph Rossa said. But in the hit-and-run cases, supervisors weigh the wreck's "solvability factor" when determining whether to assign an investigator, Rossa said. Without the striking car's make or model, tag numbers or further details, the case becomes challenging to crack, he said.

In Carroll's case, he could only tell police that a green sedan had hit him. When it sped off, its damaged front end was smoking, he said.

"With all those red-light cameras and surveillance cameras up and down the Boulevard, they could have gotten a picture of it. How many smoking green cars were driving on the Boulevard at 7:15 in the morning?" Carroll asked, fuming.

In Banks' case, driver Khusen Akhmedov stopped after allegedly hitting her, 27, and her sons, ages 5, 4, 23 months and 9 months. The 5-year-old was the sole survivor. Akhmedov remains jailed, and a preliminary hearing scheduled for last week has been postponed.

After his accident, Carroll, a married father of three and foster father of two, missed a week of work (and wages). But he got a new car, thanks to his insurance company. His totaled car, a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, was special - a birthday present to himself. But the new car, a 2013 Sonata, is nicer. "It talks!" he said, referring to a GPS feature.

Carroll still drives on the Boulevard, despite his fears that he might again get overtaken by street racers.

He just leans on his horn and taps the brakes a bit more. And he waits for happier news about the Boulevard - news that city leaders are cracking down on dangerous drivers.

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo


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