OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich
A 70-year-old Sparta grandmother who was injured in a hit-and-run accident in September has been released from the hospital and is receiving at-home care.
Estella Vitins suffered broken bones, lacerations, and a brain injury, according to her family.
“It’s horrible, it is very hard to deal with,” said Amy Cooper, Vitins’ daughter.
She remembers her mom as an active grandmother, but things have changed.
“They told us your mom is lucky to be alive,” said Cooper.
The family still has many questions about what happened to their loved one.
“She doesn’t have any short-term memory and she doesn’t remember the accident.”
On September 18th, Vitins was struck by a vehicle while walking along I-96 in Crockery Township around 2 a.m.
She was originally reported missing after she didn’t return to her home in Sparta earlier that day.
Her daughter said her mother did not have dementia like originally reported, but she got lost coming home from the store and didn’t have a cell phone. Vitins ran out of gas near the Fruitport exit and could not get the nearest pump to work, so she started walking.
“My sister and I retraced mom’s steps with her credit card receipts and we couldn’t get that same pump to work,” said Cooper.
Investigators say the suspected driver, identified as 48-year-old Duane Washington hit Vitins, then drove off.
Someone called police.
“I’d really like to thank the witness that stopped and helped mom, from the bottom of my heart,” said Cooper. “It means a lot because I can just imagine how long she would have laid there.”
Vitins was rushed to the hospital.
Washington’s gray Jaguar was located at an apartment complex in Gaines Township and he was taken into custody. Washington is out on bond and is facing a charge for failure to stop at an accident causing serious injury. It is a 5-year felony. The case moves to Ottawa County Circuit Court, but a court date has not been set.
Washington lives in the Caledonia area with his family. He had a short career in the NBA in the late 1980s and early 1990s and now coaches basketball.
Estella Vitins’ family plans to be in court.
“We still have questions, we want to know what exactly happened,” said Cooper.
This Thanksgiving she is focused on her mother’s recover.
“I’d like her to come back from the brain injury, but I don’ t have hopes that that’s going to happen.”