A memorial cross bearing Donald Purnell’s name was erected on Route 100 a day after his death
Editor’s Note: The truck that was the subject of a search in this story has been located. Read the update, here.
POTTSTOWN PA – Pottstown borough police and Montgomery County detectives are asking for public help in locating a dark-colored pick-up truck and its driver, who they suspect struck and killed a pedestrian Friday (March 3, 2017) at about 7:54 p.m. while traveling south on Route 100 near Shoemaker Road.
The victim is Donald Purnell of Pottstown, 24, who was declared dead at the scene. He had been walking to a nearby Wendy’s Restaurant for the start of his 8 p.m. work shift when witnesses said he was struck “at highway speed” by the truck, which “immediately fled the scene,” according to the county District Attorney’s office.
The truck was last seen going south on Route 100 toward King Street, and should have incurred front-end damage from the impact, First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr. said.
During the joint investigation now being conducted, police and detectives also have talked with the driver of a second vehicle, which McCann said struck Purnell “in the aftermath of the crash.” That driver, who has not yet been identified by authorities, “did not see the victim lying on the highway” before striking him, McCann added.
Investigators are crediting the second driver with stopping immediately, and remaining on the scene. He “was cooperative with the police,” they said.
Following the accident Friday, the intersection was ablaze with the flashing lights of first responders, including police patrol cars, fire company apparatus, and ambulances. Traffic moved slowly past the scene, and a blue tarpaulin respectfully shielded part of the incident from public view. Investigators wielding flashlights slowly paced the pavement and road shoulders of the area, searching for evidence.
Any information provided by the public may figure prominently in solving the case. Investigators are asking for assistance, particularly from anyone who witnessed Purnell being struck, was present immediately afterward, or has information about the vehicle or driver that first struck Purnell. They should call the Pottstown Borough Police Department at 610-970-6570.
Friends of Purnell began a GoFundMe page Saturday (March 4, 2017) to help cover the cost of his funeral expenses; find it here. As of Sunday (March 5) at 9:40 a.m., more than 200 contributors had raised more than $7,000 of its $10,000 goal. Any money collected over the goal will be placed into an account to benefit Purnell’s young daughter, Graycyn, organizers wrote.
By mid-day Saturday, a white cross bearing a legend with Purnell’s name and several metallic-colored balloons stood as a makeshift memorial at the accident scene. It was attached to a guardrail on the west side of Route 100, in front of the Wendy’s to which he was walking before being struck.
Other coverage (some with video):
- Montco authorities: Help us find hit-run driver who killed Pottstown man (Philly.com, March 4)
- Pedestrian struck and killed in Pottstown hit-and-run (Fox 29, March 4)
- Police ID Man Struck, Killed By Hit-Run Driver In Pottstown (CBS-3, March 3)
- Young Man Walking to Job at Wendy’s Struck and Killed in Montgomery County (NBC-10, March 4)
Photo from GoFundMe.com