PD: Driver in hit-and-run arrested

Posted at 7:59 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 00:16:01-05

CINCINNATI -- A woman drove off after she hit a child Thursday afternoon in West Price Hill and later failed to show up for court, Cincinnati police said.

Surveillance footage from a nearby business shows a group stepped out into traffic at a marked crosswalk on Glenway Avenue at Winfield Avenue.

A vehicle in the left westbound lane was stopped, and several vehicles in the curb lane abruptly stopped as the group stepped into the crosswalk.

As they walked south across Glenway, a vehicle in the left eastbound lane stopped; another in the eastbound curb lane did not and hit one of the children.

"They hit her so hard, she didn't have shoes on," witness Amy Loechel said.

The child, 11-year-old London Smith, was taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Lt. Steve Saunders said; her injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Smith's family said the child suffered a broken bone in her face, abrasions and a torn ligament.

"I don't remember when I got hit by the car," she said Friday. "I only remember when I got in the ambulance."

"When I seen her laying there without no shoes on, I thought she was dead," her mother, Rebecca Thomas said. "I thought she was dead, and I just started screaming. She was just laying there with blood coming out of her mouth. She couldn't move."

Ruby Estepp, 36, was arrested on charges of leaving the scene and driving under suspension, according to Hamilton County court records. Officers found and arrested her shortly after the incident, Saunders said.

Estepp was later released from jail, and did not show up for a court appearance Friday morning. A warrant was issued for her arrest.

"I'm still emotional and mad," Thomas, said. "I'm mad because they let her out last night -- the lady who hit her -- and she didn't show up in court today."

Mike Robison, a spokesman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said Estepp was released before her court appearance because jail staff "had no knowledge of the details of the case." According to Robison, jail staff determine if a suspect is being booked on a violent or nonviolent offense. Because Estepp's citation didn't indicate otherwise, Robison said, jail staff thought she'd been charged with a nonviolent offense -- and, because of a shortage of beds for women, she was eligible for early release.

Estepp was arrested again Sunday, records show.

Calls to Curb Dangerous Traffic

Joe Hirth, a former president of the West Price Hill Community Council, described the intersection of Glenway and Winfield as one of the neighborhood's most dangerous. It sits near the western edge of West Price Hill's business district, a stretch with three schools -- Elder High School, Seton High School and Carson Elementary School -- and many pedestrians.

"Just slow down, watch yourselves," Hirth said. "It's not worth getting home a few minutes earlier for some type of an accident."


Earlier this week, a motion from Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and signed by all eight other council members asked the city administration to compile a report on the most dangerous crosswalks and intersections for pedestrians and come up with some solutions to make them safer -- possibly lighted crosswalks and other measures to deter dangerous traffic. Sittenfeld's motion will be discussed in Vice Mayor David Mann's Neighborhoods Committee, according to city records.

"It's dangerous for sure," said Pete Witte, who owns a business near Thursday's crash scene and lives in West Price Hill. "In fact, we've had an ongoing conversation about how crosswalks are not effective."

Under Ohio law, vehicles must stop for pedestrians who are in a marked crosswalk; state law also specifies pedestrians cannot "suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle ... which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard."

Additionally, one vehicle cannot pass or go around another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian.