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Wheelchair-bound man hit on Halloween

November 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A handicapped man was struck down by a hit-and-run driver on Halloween. Police are searching for the suspect. The collision happened Saturday night at Wellington Avenue and Lacy Street in Santa Ana. The victim remains in grave condition.

Fred Dole was always happy to help others, never letting his disability slow him down. He was helping his neighbor put up lights Halloween night in front of their apartment complex in Santa Ana

"He went across street to look at lights," said Shirley Harrelson, whoe witnessed the incident. "I just heard a horrible thud and I saw Fred flying through the air."

"He was hit right here and knocked about 12 feet," said Donald Harrelson, another witness.

"I was so horrified, I jumped out of my seat," said Harrelson. "I was giving out candy. I jumped up and ran to Fred."

Witnesses say the 62-year-old Dole lay in the street unconscious. The white Ford Econoline van that hit him stopped for about 15 seconds.

"It looked like he was going to stop but it backed up a little bit then took off, speeding down that way," said Nicholas Britton, who saw the incident. "We thought about jumping in front but worried we would be hit too. A couple of my friends chased after it in a car, but it was going too fast to catch up to him."

Witnesses say it happened around 6:30 p.m. on 500 block of Wellington Ave. The van was traveling up to 40 miles an hour. Neighbors say that was too fast considering there were a lot of children trick-or-treating.

Police say the van likely has a lot of front end damage.

"Broken headlights, dented bumper, scratches is possible," said Santa Ana Police Commander Tammy Franks.

As police search for the driver, friends visit Dole in the hospital.

"We don't expect him to survive," said Dole's friend Cody Campbell.

Friends say Dole is off life support, but has not regained consciousness.

Dole is a former art history teacher who took care of the plants in his apartment complex. He lived alone.

The tight-knit neighborhood became his family, and they are now desperate to find the person who left him lying in the street.

"It's pretty incomprehensible," said Campbell.

"I feel he should be brought to justice," said Harrelson. "Really, you don't just hit somebody, take somebody's life away."


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