Monday, March 2, 2015

Please Help Hit-And-Run Victim Rest

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Monday, March 2, 2015
By Bill Gouveia

            As the Assistant Town Clerk in Seekonk, Karen McHugh had to pay attention to details.  She had to notice the little things and take care of them.  It was a big part of her job, and her job was important.

            Now Karen’s friends and family are counting on the good people of Seekonk who she so faithfully served, and perhaps their friends and neighbors, to do their job.  The mystery of her tragic death must be solved and closure brought to those who loved her.

            McHugh was walking in front of her Seekonk home on Friday, January 30th, trying to get to her house from her garage.  The large snow banks forced her to briefly walk on the edge of the roadway.  Before she could reach the comfort and safety of her home, she was hit by a passing car and killed.

            According to police, that car then continued along Arcade Avenue in Seekonk, heading towards Taunton Avenue.  It left behind some glass, some smashed signal light lens cover material, and the broken body of an innocent victim and dedicated public servant.

It has been about a month now since local police began an intensive search for the vehicle and driver involved in this horrible incident.  Despite their best efforts, the results have been discouraging.

Authorities believe the car in question may have been a dark-colored General Motors sedan.  The lens they discovered could possibly be from a 2004-05 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, a 1997-2005 Malibu, a 1997-99 Oldsmobile Cutlass, a 1997-98 Oldsmobile Achieva, a 1996 Chevrolet Beretta, or a 1996 Chevrolet Corsica.  They also believe the vehicle would have some front-end damage, and a broken directional signal or side marker.

So far both the driver and the vehicle are unidentified.  But they are both out there somewhere.  Hiding perhaps, trying to stay out of sight and out of trouble.  And somewhere, somebody knows something about them – even if they don’t yet realize it.

While Karen McHugh rests in a cold grave, the person who killed her is likely somewhere warm and safe.  While Karen’s family and co-workers mourn her death and deal with their grief, that driver and any passengers they may have had with them have to deal with knowing they must either step forward, or look over their shoulder for the rest of their lives.

This was probably a terrible accident.  It is doubtful the driver meant for this to happen.  Maybe they didn’t even realize it at first?  Or maybe they were drunk and are now afraid of the consequences?

Regardless, they had no right to simply drive away and leave Karen McHugh bleeding on the ground.  They will be held responsible for what they have done, in this world as well as the next.

Because you see, somebody does know something.  Someone saw something.  They may not yet realize it, it may not have dawned on them yet – but it will.  And then that person will talk to authorities, and there will be no place for the hit-and-run driver to hide.

Maybe you know someone who had a broken light recently.  Perhaps you know of someone who had a perfectly good car, then suddenly didn’t have it.  Maybe someone said something strange about the incident, and you passed it off. 

Perhaps you saw what appeared to be an old burned-out car in the woods somewhere.  Maybe you noticed a large mound someplace where something large might have been buried.  Perhaps you saw someone unexpectedly donate or junk a vehicle.

You can contact Seekonk police at (508) 336-8123.  You can make an anonymous report at (508) 336-7027, Ext. 9.  You can write a letter, send an email.  They will check any lead, appreciate any help.

Karen McHugh deserves to be at rest, as does her family.  Her community is a close one, and they watch out for one another.  Her family will keep searching, the police will keep searching, and people from Seekonk and beyond will keep searching.

One of those “little things” is going to fall into place soon.  That driver knows this.  He or she should step forward now and stop living a lie.

Karen McHugh was important to her community, and that community will not rest until she can.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official.  He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

No comments: