PD: Driver hit mother, 3-year-old going to PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo

Driver didn't stop, police say
Posted at 10:10 PM, Nov 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-27 15:31:04-05

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of the child's name received from Cincinnati police; WCPO regrets this error.

CINCINNATI -- A driver hit a woman and her 3-year-old child Saturday evening as they were crossing Vine Street to go to the PNC Festival of Lights, according to Cincinnati police.

The child, Khloe Pitts, was listed in critical condition at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Her mother, 27-year-old Joy White, was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she was listed in serious condition. 

Police said the driver was headed south on Vine in a 2012 Chevrolet Traverse and hit the women at about 9 p.m. near the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Witnesses told police the driver passed another car and ran a red light before hitting the mother and daughter. 

Police found the abandoned vehicle a short distance away on Shields Street, but they have not yet found the driver. 

Vine Street was closed near Erkenbrecher Avenue while the Cincinnati Police Department's Traffic Unit investigated. 

"They're going to review film, interview witnesses, anything they have to do, and they'll get out their computers and do their crime scene," Capt. Jim Grampke said. 

Speed appears to have been a factor in the crash, according to police.

Any witnesses are asked to call the Traffic Unit at 513-352-2514.

Hit-skip crashes on the rise

Catching perpetrators in hit-and-run cases involving pedestrians or cyclists is somewhat of a rarity, according to a WCPO analysis of police crash data. Out of 444 such hit-and-run incidents throughout the city since 2013, only 63, or 14 percent have resulted in charges filed against a suspect.

The data also show an uptick in incidents in recent years.

According to Cincinnati Police Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer, who heads up the CPD's Traffic Unit, this is because hit-and-run incidents are as complex as any other criminal investigation there is.

"We want to find physical evidence. We want to find witnesses, interview those people, and put a case together to determine who was driving the car," Hoffbauer told WCPO.

IN DEPTH: Police look to prevention as hit-skips trend upward

He also said investigations can take hours following the crash, and they never close.

"If it’s a fatality or a serious injury, life-threatening crash, we’re going to map that and document that as we would if it was a homicide or near homicide," Hoffbauer said.

Read more about what police say everyone -- drivers, pedestrians and cyclists -- need to do to keep Cincinnati's roads safe.