Hit-run victim investigates and solves case

SMYRNA, Ga -- When a Smyrna man was struck on his bicycle by a hit-run driver police told him it would be difficult to find the suspect. So he decided to conduct his own investigation. It ended in an arrest.

Jacob Rogers, 39, was riding his bicycle to work on Spring Road in Smyrna when he was hit. He stopped at the intersection of Spring Road and Cumberland Gate, an entrance to an apartment complex. "I stopped and I looked to make sure that there were no cars coming," Rogers said.

What happened next caught him by surprise. "I didn't see anything there so I proceeded through the intersection and it was right here where I got hit," Rogers told 11 Alive News at the accident site.

The driver of a silver Volkswagen hit him in the middle of the intersection. But, what happened next was even more surprising. Rogers explained. "So I'm still on my bike and she forced her way through me," he said. The car pushed him aside and took off.

Rogers said he wasn't hurt seriously. He said he still feels some pain in his left foot, which was on the pedal that was struck by the car. Part of that pedal broke off and Rogers said he couldn't find it.

A witness called Smyrna Police and an officer came to the scene to fill out a report. The officer told Rogers it would be a day or two before a hit-run detective would be assigned to the case.

But Rogers said he was so upset about the driver leaving that he didn't want to wait. "I was not so much upset about the accident because accidents happen," he said. "I was upset that she pushed her way through and it was a hit and run."

The next day Rogers went back to the apartment complex the car pulled out of to look for a silver Volkswagen. He wasn't expecting much. "The first car that I saw was a silver Volkswagen," he said. "I took a picture of it and I thought 'I'm going to check the front to see if there's any damage.'"

He took a picture of the car from behind and when he walked around to the front he found the smoking gun. The missing piece from his bike pedal was stuck in the front grill of the car. "The pedal sticking out was what really sealed it," Rogers said.

A police officer who lives in the apartment complex ran the license plate of the car and found an apartment address for the owner. Smyrna Police arrested the driver, Pablynne Silva, 20, and charged her with a misdemeanor Hit and Run. "Mr. Rogers solved the crime," said Officer Chris Graeff. "It's kind of rare, but he did a good job."

When police questioned Silva about what happened she said "I kinda hit a guy on a bike", according to an incident report. When the officer asked her why she didn't stop she stated because she was scared.

Rogers said it all could have been avoided easily. "Had she just stopped we wouldn't be here talking," he said. "It would have been avoided."

"We always encourage the public to let the police do our job," Officer Graeff said. "Let us do the investigations and solve the crimes because we don't want to put anyone in harm's way." Officer Graeff admitted that it worked out find this time.

Rogers said he hopes Silva doesn't have to serve time in jail for her mistake. Misdemeanor Hit and Run is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

Rogers he wants everyone to learn a lesson from his experience and that is to be more mindful of bicycle riders.

You can follow Kevin on Twitter @krowson11alive and like him on Facebook.


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