Charges filed against suspect wanted for hit-and-run crash with Hires Big H manager

Local News

UPDATE 12/20: Charges have been filed against the suspect, 27-year-old Patrick Walker.

Police say he was last seen driving a black Dodge Ram 1500 with the license plate W076YH.

Walker was charged Wednesday with two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and failure to stop at a serious injury accident.

If you have any information, you are asked to contact Salt Lake City Police at 801-799-3000.

[Original story]

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Police are searching for a loitering suspect responsible for a hit-and-run crash involving a manager at Hires Big H on Friday.

The family of Jim Merrill, the victim, told ABC 4 News that a man, who has been loitering regularly, was parked in the Litzas Pizza/Hires Big H parking lot to wait for his girlfriend to come out of Chipotle.

Merrill went up to the man and asked him to move his truck, but family members said the man was verbally aggressive. When Merrill started walking away to contact police, the man ran over Merrill with his truck and then sped out of the parking lot, narrowly missing other employees and people.

Merrill’s stepdaughter, Syndi Burge, who also works at Hires Big H, witnessed the whole event.

“I was actually at a car taking their order and the customer and I watched this happen. The customer said, ‘Oh my gosh! I think he’s going to hit him!'” said Burge. “When we both looked, that’s when he ran him over. I remember dropping everything and just running. I tried to call 911 on my phone, but I was shaking so bad, I couldn’t call the number.”

Merrill’s wife, Susan immediately rushed to the hospital upon receiving the call.

“I didn’t know if he was alive or dead, if he was still on the road, in the parking lot, if he was really hurt horribly,” Susan Merrill said tearfully.

Luckily, Merrill survived the crash. But he will need reconstructive surgery on his right knee. Family members said a large chunk of his knee was taken out and he has multiple broken ribs.

“When he saw me, he started sniffling cause he was really fighting his emotions. I went over there to give him a kiss and he started to cry. He said, ‘How could anybody do that to me?’” said Susan Merrill.

But his wife said his most severe injury is the mental trauma he suffers from the incident.

“When he goes to sleep, he has really bad nightmares. He called me at 3 o’clock in the morning last night because he had a bad nightmare and he was so afraid,” said Susan Merrill.

Merrill is not the only person affected by the traumatic event. Burge and her co-workers are too.

Salt Lake City Police said the suspect’s girlfriend was arrested for obstruction of justice, but was released as of Monday morning. The suspect himself, is still on the loose.

“Honestly this morning, I was scared to come to work. This guy is already so angry as it is. I was almost scared he’d come back and try to do something to us,” said Burge.

She fears that the suspect is capable of harming other people.

“He had no regard for human life whatsoever and it shows that in the video. He had no regard for who he hurt, who he hit, who he, who he killed, nothing,” said Burge.

His family said they have one message for the suspect, if he sees this report.

“Turn yourself in. Don’t be a coward. You were big enough to hit my dad. You can be big enough to take responsibility for what you did,” said Sandi Allred, Merrill’s stepdaughter.

Merrill’s family has a fundraiser set up to help with medical expenses and possible mental therapy resulting from this incident. If you would like to help, click here.

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