TRAVERSE CITY — The community is reeling from another hit-and-run incident after an unknown motorist struck and critically injured a hospital patient who'd walked away from Munson Medical Center.
Richard McClellan, 44, of Kalkaska, was found Wednesday just before midnight crumpled near the intersection of Seventh and Cedar streets. City police don't believe the incident is connected to the hit-and-run death of Kelly Ann Boyce on July 5, despite similarities between the two as-yet-unsolved cases.
"At this point we have no evidence or reason to link the two accidents together," said Traverse City Police Capt. Mike Ayling.
Several neighborhood residents heard a collision and car accelerating from the scene. Ayling said one witness heard the impact and saw a white four-door or extended cab GMC pickup truck, possibly a 2010 or 2011 model, speed away toward Division Street.
Police want to speak with the driver, even if the person didn't strike McClellan.
Seventh Street resident Rob Stark described hearing a "real eerie noise, a real eerie thud" from the street at about 11:45 p.m.
"When you're out in the woods, hear a bear growl and the hair on the back of your neck stands up — it was the same kind of sound," Stark said. "I didn't want to go outside."
His neighbor Tim Nelson heard the same noise, as well as the sound of a vehicle accelerating, but he initially didn't consider it suspicious. That changed a few minutes later when he heard a man call 911 from the street. He went outside and saw McClellan face down on the pavement.
"He had a laceration on the back of his head," he said. "He had a hospital bracelet on ... The weirdest thing was he was breathing like he was asleep."
McClellan remains in critical condition on a ventilator in Munson Medical Center. Spokesman Dale Killingbeck said McClellan was checked in and treated in the Munson emergency department before the incident, but walked out of the hospital "without the medical advice to leave."