A Statesboro woman seeks answers as to why her brother's death went unreported after he was struck by a car in December.
Delores Jones said her brother, Charles Edward Hagan, 64, of Anthony Street, died Dec. 29 after he was struck by a vehicle Dec. 22 on Williams Road.
There were no media reports of his death, she said.
Statesboro police Cpl. Justin Samples said Wednesday that no one had reported Hagan's death, which occurred seven days after the accident, to the police department. A police accident report gave few details of the incident, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. Dec. 22 on Williams Road near the back entrance to Food World.
According to the report, Hagan was crossing the road when he stepped into the path of a car driven by Sarah Frances Jenkins of River Trail in Millen. The report states that Jenkins told Lewis she braked and swerved but was unable to avoid striking Hagan.
The report did not list Hagan's injuries but stated that Jenkins' car sustained moderate damage. Jenkins was not charged in the accident.
Jones said her brother suffered "two broken legs, a broken shoulder, two punctured kidneys, a punctured lung, four fractured ribs, a back laceration and head injuries where he had been dragged."
Jones said she is upset because her brother's belongings, including shoes that had been knocked off his feet upon impact, were left along the road. She said police spoke to her when she arrived at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, where Bulloch County EMS took Hagan, but said they never met with her afterward as they promised.
Hagan was transported to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, where he remained for a week, she said. Hospital staff told her "he was doing really good," but then Jones got a call that he had "taken a turn for the worse, and we needed to go to the hospital."
When she arrived Dec. 29, Hagan had died, she said. The family looked for reports in the media about his death, but none appeared.
As there were no police reports listing the fatal accident, the Statesboro Herald received no notification regarding Hagan's death.
When asked about the issue Wednesday, Samples said he was unaware of a fatal accident recently on Williams Road. When he checked on the accident report, he discovered it did not list a fatality. Samples said the report will be updated to reflect the fact that the accident did result in a fatality.
It is common practice for officers investigating accidents resulting in serious injuries to follow up by contacting the hospital treating the victim to learn about the victim's condition, Samples said.
In this case, Officer Terrell Lewis did call Memorial after the accident, seeking information on Hagan's condition, and was told Hagan was "in critical but stable condition," Samples said. Upon hearing this, Lewis had no reason to follow up further based on the victim's condition, Samples said.
No one at Memorial contacted Statesboro police to report the fatality, Samples said, adding that normally, the hospitals notify a coroner of the death.
Bulloch County Coroner Jake Futch said Wednesday that the hospital did notify him of Hagan's death, but he did not contact police because he assumed the hospital had done so.
There are no set policies regarding reporting deaths to law enforcement, he said.
Jones said the lack of a policy is unacceptable.
"I don't feel good about it at all," she said. "If that's his job, he should have done his job. It's his responsibility. There is no excuse for that."
Futch said he agrees it would be "common courtesy" to notify investigators, but because officers are normally in contact with the hospitals regarding victims' conditions, he assumed that was the case in Hagan's death.
"It's a shame it happened the way it did," Jones said.
She is also upset because police reports did not give her brother's account of what took place.
Jones said two Statesboro police officers were at East Georgia hospital when she arrived, but she said she did not see them speak to Hagan, who was being treated in the emergency room trauma unit. The accident reports did not include a statement from Hagan.
There were also no "marks on the road where they (police) could see where he was hit, and there were no skid marks," she said.
Reports also stated that Jenkins was not tested for intoxication, and Jones questioned that as well.
Samples said the law prevents officers from requiring drug or alcohol testing unless there are valid, visible reasons for an officer to suspect intoxication. There was no reason for Lewis to suspect Jenkins was intoxicated, Samples said.
Futch said he reported Hagan's death as resulting from "blunt force trauma to the body" due to the accident.
Jones said her family has contacted an attorney in Savannah regarding authorities' handling of the accident and the reporting of Hagan's death.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.