GSP narrow search for fatal hit and run driver - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

GSP narrow search for fatal hit and run driver

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Michael Burns Michael Burns
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - UPDATE: Investigators believe they are getting closer to figuring out who was driving the vehicle that killed Michael Burns last month.

Sgt. Tommy Sturdivan with Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team says several agencies have been working around the clock.

“It's just a matter of time before we have what we need and we go knocking on this person's door,” he said.

That work started to pay off Friday when they found video of the hit and run from businesses in the area.

“The vehicle will be silver or gray in color and will have damage to the right front corner,” he said.

It shows them what kind of car to look for, a Ford Taurus. Similar to the one pictured.

Investigators hope the video will also give them a picture of the driver and tag information.

“They will need to be enhanced because with the naked eye, we can't make out all of the information we need,” he added.

Sturdivan also showed a picture of the tire tread pattern that was left in the material on the wheelchair. He has a clear message for the “anonymous” driver:

“We just need to talk to you and we need to look at your vehicle,” he said.

The reason—to gather all the facts his investigation needs and give Michael's family the answers they deserve.

“Because without that car, we can't report all of them.”

Investigators also ask any local body shops to contact them if they've done any work recently on any cars matching that description.

While Georgia State Patrol works to identify the driver who killed Michael Burns as he was traveling home from the store in his wheelchair, Burn's family is honoring his memory.  

"Today we're saying our final goodbyes to Michael," said his cousin, Joey King, "We're having our memorial service this afternoon. Still I think all of us are still in the state of shock, it's not really set in with us yet."
Friends and family of Michael Burns are honoring his life with a memorial service and are still looking for the person who caused his death.

"We want him to know we tried everything we can to find the person," King said.

The service was held at the Lane Funeral Home in Rossville, just a few miles from the intersection where Burns was the victim of a hit and run.

Georgia State Patrol released a photo, saying a car with a similar make and model struck and killed Burns.

"Our probably biggest help is going to be word of mouth," said Sgt. James McConathy, "That somebody has information that will lead us to the vehicle or the driver."

Georgia State Patrol says three witnesses all gave a similar description of the car and the suspect.

They are looking for a man driving a medium gray car with damage to the front end, but not enough damage to take the car off the road.

"That's what the witnesses said, that it was a male driver," Sgt. McConathy said, "And there was two (witnesses) pretty close to the vehicle so that's kind of what we're going on at this time.

There isn't much evidence for investigators to work with. The car didn't leave behind any damage, and Burn's wheelchair is being analyzed, but witnesses believe the car has Tennessee tags.

"They did say it was a Tennessee tag," Sgt. McConathy said, "But I think at the time of the incident both witnesses were more focused on the victim than the vehicle."
Days after his death, family of Michael Burns are still trying to make sense of it all.

"It starts out with tears when we get on the phone with each other," King said, "It's just unbelievable. It's going to hurt us forever, we'll never forget him."
They are holding onto anger, knowing that his killer is still out there.

"There's a car running around with damage somewhere and somebody knows something or has seen the car. So just call," said King.

Call Georgia State Patrol at (706) 272-2200 if you can help solve the case. 

UPDATE: A North Georgia family is desperate to find the driver responsible for hitting and killing their loved one and then leaving the scene.  Michael Burns, 56, was hit while he went down the street in this electric wheelchair.

The accident happened around 1:30 Saturday afternoon in Rossville near the intersection of Indian Avenue and Cedar Street.

Michael Burns' cousin tells Channel 3 he is heartbroken over what has happened. He says his family can not comprehend why the driver never stopped.

"Somebody's running around with a lot on their conscience. And I just hope they turn themselves in," says Joey King, Michael Burns' cousin.

Orange flags and spray paint line part of Indian Avenue in Rossville, a sight hard for King to see.

"I'm very angry that somebody didn't stop. How could you do something to somebody like that and not even stop?"

Saturday afternoon, 56-year-old Michael Burns was heading back to his apartment from the store, in his electric wheelchair, heading North on Indian Avenue like he always does.

"We see him come down here all the time," says Lacey Hartley. "He's usually off to the side. Cars go around him but apparently not this time."

Hartley lives just down the street.

"It sounded like an explosion. Like two cars had hit," says Hartley.

A car hit burns head-on, throwing him out of his wheelchair. The impact was so hard it knocked him out of his shoes. Witnesses say the driver stopped briefly, then took off. 

"They took off down the road and took a right on to James Street. They barely stopped right there too. There could have been another accident right there as well," says Hartley.

"Regardless of what your circumstances are, somebody just lost their life," says King.

Burns' cousin is desperate for answers.

"Please help us. We want to know who did this to him. He didn't deserve to go out like this," he says.

Just two months ago, Burns bounced back from a health scare. Before his health decline confined him to a wheelchair, he saved lives as a paramedic. 

"We were best friends. And it's sad to see such a good person gone."

King knows somebody knows something.

"We beg for anybody that knows anything. If they see the car or know the car or know anything about it to please call," says King.

Georgia State Patrol says Burns was well within the law traveling down the road in his electric wheelchair.

Witnesses say the vehicle that hit Burns is a white or silver sedan, possibly an Acura, with a Tennessee tag. It most likely has front-end damage. Call Georgia State Patrol at (706) 272-2200 if you can help solve the case.  

PREVIOUS STORY: Walker County Deputies are investigating a fatal hit and run that killed a man in a wheelchair, Saturday. Dispatchers say it happened just after 1:30 Saturday afternoon on Indian Avenue at Cedar Street in Rossville. 

Deputies say someone driving a light colored four door passenger car, hit the man in the wheelchair then took off. The victim was fatally injured.

Authorities are looking for a white or possible gray colored small passenger car like an Acura or Honda model with tinted windows. 

They say the car involved should have damage to the front end. If you have any information that could help investigators call the Walker County Sheriff's Department.
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