MILWAUKEE — There have been nearly 400 hit-and-run crashes in the first month of 2020. One of those crashes killed a man.
Out of the 1,158 crashes so far this year, drivers took off 380 times. Milwaukee Police say those hit-and-run crashes caused property damage, serious injury, and death.
Used candles at 35th Street and Wright mark the site where 53-year-old Anthony Barnes was killed riding his bike last weekend. Police say the driver sped away before officers arrived on the scene.
"It's very frustrating," said Sergeant Roberto Colon with Milwaukee Police Department's Specialized Patrol Division.
When it comes to hit and run crashes Colon has heard the excuses.
"I didn't know what to do, I don't have a drivers license, I didn't have insurance, I was scared," he recalled.
These cases spark lengthy investigations from meticulous crash reconstruction to tracking down the car and driver. Leads from neighbors are often key to cracking cases.
"You always hear that we can't do this job without the help of the community and there's nothing more truthful than that," said Colon.
Right before the new year, James Hanson died after being hit by a car while walking her dogs.
The suspected driver, Manuel Salazar Gutierrez, is still on the run.
With the year just getting started Colon hopes people who consider driving away after being in a crash will think twice.
"This person is somebody's relative, your brother, your sister, your mom, your dad. Think about that what if somebody did that to one of your loved ones," said Colon.
The overall number of crashes and specifically hit and run crashes in 2020 is down from this time last year. MPD reported 1,335 total crashes and 408 hit-and-run crashes for the same time period in 2019.
Police attribute that decline to ongoing efforts to combat reckless driving in Milwaukee. Those efforts include deploying radar units and officers to areas where reckless driving is prevalent.