CINCINNATI -- Police have a new lead in a yet-unsolved hit-and-run case that took the life of a Cincinnati woman in the heart of Downtown last month.
The I-Team has learned that Cincinnati police believe they have located the vehicle that last month struck 77-year-old Irene Swain while she was crossing Central Avenue at Ninth Street. The driver fled the scene, police said, and the collision would take Swain's life just a few days later. She was unresponsive at the scene and never woke up.
"We’re quite confident that the car we have is the striking vehicle," said Cincinnati Police Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer, who leads the department's Traffic Unit. "We were able to get that information from some people who heard what happened, talked amongst family and friends."
Hoffbauer said his unit's investigation led them to find the vehicle in the Hawaiian Terrace area of Mount Airy.
Now, investigators are trying to find the person who was behind the wheel when the collision occurred -- no easy task.
"We’ve spoken to the owner. The owner is being cooperative, but still there is some confusion of who may have been driving the car at the time of the crash," Hoffbauer said.
The vehicle remained impounded pending the ongoing investigation.
Hoffbauer said the driver, if found, would face multiple felony charges per the prosecutor's discretion.
Swain's death was the last in a series of eight pedestrians and bicyclists killed within a four-week period across the Tri-State, including 12-year-old Eric Raney while riding his bicycle to school in Northern Kentucky. Raney's case was also a hit-and-run, police said.
Since then, a 16-year-old student was killed crossing Alexandria Pike on Nov. 3.
A WCPO analysis of Cincinnati traffic data shows an upward trend in such incidents over the last four years.
Hit-and-run crashes are also as complex cases to solve as any criminal investigation, Hoffbauer said:
"Witness statements and witness participation that we get in these crashes is invaluable," but they're not always available, he said.
He also emphasized how leaving the scene of any crashes will mean additional charges for the driver: "If you leave, and you’re not at fault, you can be charged," he said.
Investigators still ask anyone with information regarding the vehicle or the crash contact the Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Unit at 513-352-2514.