Push underway to fix epidemic of hit-and-run crashes in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia City Council held hearings into hit-and-run crashes in the city on Wednesday, following an Action News Investigation earlier this month into the epidemic.

Our investigation found very few non-fatal cases are being investigated, even with sufficient evidence.

In the city, one in four car accidents is a hit-and-run, and each year there are more than 16,000 of them.

Police said hit-and-run fatalities hit a 10 year high in 2020.

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An Action News Investigation has found an alarming number of solvable hit-and-run cases are not being investigated by Philadelphia police.

"When are you all going to make an arrest?" said Stephanie Evans, who lost her son.

Evans testified before Philadelphia City Council's Committee on Public Safety.

Her son, Robert, was run over and killed at Broad and Champlost in January 2020.

Still, there's been no arrest despite finding the vehicle and its owner.

"Now it is 2021 and to date there has not been an arrest and you've had the information," she said.

Philadelphia police tell Action News they're awaiting DNA analysis from the vehicle to tie the driver to the car and accident.

WATCH: Here's what led to Action News' investigation into Philly's hit-and-run epidemic
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Action News Investigates hit-and-run accidents in Philadelphia. Police are making changes to policy after frustrated victims say police turned them away.

Solving hit-and-run accidents has been sporadic in Philadelphia.

An Action News investigation earlier this month found fewer than 5% of cases are even investigated, and even when drivers present sufficient evidence to police, most are not pursued.

"I can't give them proper justice that they deserve and that a lot of victims would want, when they suffer from these unfortunate situations. All I can do is say that hopefully, it'll be a new day in the city of Philadelphia," said
Councilman Isaiah Thomas, who chairs the Streets and Services Committee.

Captain Mark Overwise runs the Accidents Investigation District or AID.

He proposes more manpower in his unit from 36 to 53 investigators.

"It is underscored the need for enhanced investigative capabilities so the police department can hold drivers more accountable," he said.

Others argue hit-and-run violations need increased fines and jail time, while some are calling for better technology in poorer neighborhoods like automated speed and red light enforcement.

"I think that when you're talking about an issue, like this change is going to be gradual," said Thomas.
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