Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 6, 2013

Hit-and-run fatality similar to 2012 incident

BY MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities continued to search for a driver who plowed over and killed a Traverse City woman as she rode a bicycle on Washington Street, an incident eerily reminiscent of a hit-and-run collision that injured a bicyclist a year ago.

Kelly Ann Boyce, 29, was riding home Friday at about 1:50 a.m. in the 600 block of Washington Street when investigators believe someone who piloted a dark pickup truck or SUV struck her from behind. Traverse City Police Capt. Brian Heffner said detectives are seeking the public’s help in tracking down the driver.

“Somebody knows who this is,” he said.

Heffner said Boyce died from traumatic injuries early Friday in Munson Medical Center.

“We lost a perfect soul today,” said her husband Paul Hurlbert, fighting back tears.

Hurlbert said Boyce was riding her bicycle home after a double shift at North Peak Brewing Company. She briefly stopped by Kilkenny’s to see Hurlbert’s band play and was within sight of their residence in the 700 block of Washington Street when the vehicle struck her.

“We both ride our bikes every day. That’s why we live in town,” he said. “She’s always very cautious.”

Boyce, who is originally from Benzie County, was set to celebrate her one-year wedding anniversary next week. Boyce’s friend Sharon Hults said she enjoyed music, dancing and company.

“Honestly, the thing she loved the most in life was Paulie,” she said.

Accident investigators believe Boyce was riding east on the south side of the Washington Street, within 12 inches of the curb when the vehicle — traveling in the same direction — struck her. She was thrown from the bicycle, became entangled with the vehicle and was dragged for more than a block to an alleyway on Railroad Street.

Heffner said investigators could not discount similarities with a late June 2012 incident in which a dark vehicle struck a pregnant bicyclist on Ninth Street and broke her leg. The victim in that case told the Record-Eagle she believed the vehicle intentionally struck her.

“That prior case is still open and we’re still investigating it,” Heffner said. “Both incidents — a year ago and the one that happened this morning — are very similar. Both involved a female riding her bike home and struck from behind by a dark-colored vehicle in a residential area downtown.”

Heffner said officers briefly spoke with Boyce at the scene and conducted interviews with at least six neighborhood witnesses who reported seeing either a dark pickup truck or SUV drive away.

Washington Street resident John Flesher awoke early Friday to a crash and piercing screams. He looked out his window and saw a dark vehicle moving quickly around the corner onto Railroad Street.

“The screams followed the truck,” he said. “The screams were definitely coming from the truck, but I couldn’t see who was doing the screaming.”

Flesher initially thought someone had been abducted or a July 4 reveler was pulling a prank until he saw his neighbors pull a bicycle out of the roadway.

“That’s when it dawned on me what happened,” he said.

Just minutes after the accident, Patrick Butcher and others bicycled from the downtown restaurant House of Doggs to his mother’s Washington Street residence. They found the bicycle in the road and were told by family members in the house that a dark vehicle drove off from the accident.

“There was a tire track, a solid path of rubber from here to the (Railroad Street) alley,” Butcher said.

A long tire track was visible Friday from the 600 block of Washington Street leading to the Railroad Street alleyway where Boyce was found.

Police are asking members of the public who may know anyone traveling on or near Washington Street on Friday at about 1:50 a.m. to contact detectives at 231-995-5152 or call the anonymous tips line at 231-947-8477.

“Either someone knows an individual who was traveling home at 2 in the morning and was driving a dark-colored SUV or pickup,” Heffner said. “Somebody knows that someone didn’t show up for work (Friday). Somebody knows that someone’s car is gone or they’re hiding it. We all know our friends and our family. We all know (when) something is not right and it’s that person we’re trying to find that’s going to give us the last piece of information we need.”