Man in wheelchair, known to panhandle, critically injured in Philadelphia hit-and-run

Police are looking for a White sedan, possibly a Hyundai, with New Jersey tags and front-end damage.

Friday, June 21, 2024
Man in wheelchair, known to panhandle, critically injured in Philadelphia hit-and-run
A man in a wheelchair was critically injured after being struck by a vehicle near Franklin Square in Philadelphia's Center City.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A man in a wheelchair was critically injured after being struck by a vehicle near Franklin Square in Philadelphia's Center City. Police say he is known to panhandle in the area.

Police say a man was sitting at the intersection of Franklin and Vine streets just after midnight when he was struck by a driver, launching him out of his wheelchair about 50 feet westbound.

The man, believed to be around 50 years old, was found suffering from head trauma next to the wheelchair. He is in critical condition and is said to be undergoing surgery now.

Police say the car that hit him was traveling westbound on the off-ramp of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The driver then made a right turn and was seen north on 7th Street from Vine Street, and kept going after the man was struck.

Police say the man in the wheelchair was most likely panhandling at the time of the incident.

"He may have been out here panhandling," said Chief Inspector Scott Small, with the Philadelphia Police Department. "This is a lock where you often see panhandling that come out here to the intersection and officers say they have seen him in the past panhandling."

A man who asked to be identified only as Santos, told Action News he knows the victim. He said they both panhandle at the intersection, which is often dangerous with all the traffic heading to and from the interstates.

"You do have people who don't like panhandlers and they would want to get rid of them," Santos said. "We're risking ourselves out here."

Santos said he's known the victim for years and often looks out for the man, who he said is homeless and an amputee.

"There's days that he'll be on the line and he'll be falling asleep and I be waking him up," Santos told Action News.

Motorists in the area who sometimes drive through the intersection said it's almost always full of panhandlers in the roadway. James Williams said he often worries about drivers running into the panhandlers and is surprised it doesn't happen more often.

"You've got drivers who aren't necessarily looking, especially when it's late at night," Williams said. "It's a big problem that you don't necessarily know how to tackle."

A witness does have a dashcam video. Police are looking for a White sedan, possibly a Hyundai with New Jersey tags and front-end damage.

The Philadelphia Police Department is urging anyone with information regarding this auto-pedestrian incident to contact the Crash Investigation Division at 215-685-3181. Tips can be submitted anonymously by calling or texting our PPD's tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477).

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