Public asked to help identify hit-run driver

Eric Smith, 25, was on his way to catch a bus to work when he was struck by what appears to be a newer, dark blue Nissan Maxima on Pleasant Street in Fall River early Friday morning.

Smith said while he was crossing the street, he looked both ways, but said the Nissan was going so fast, that it seemed to come out of nowhere, and before he was all the way to the other side of the street, he was already hit.

"I looked both ways, and I saw that one (other car) is gone, it seemed clear to go, so I started walking. I got about 75 percent of the way through, and I looked to my right again, and I see a car speeding down the street. By the time I actually had a chance to react to it, it was too late. It was already so close to me, so I kind of had to move myself a little bit further, so I didn't get hit head on by the car, and I ended up only being hit by the right side of the car," Smith said.

Smith said he was knocked unconscious for close to ten minutes, and was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital.

"I got two fractures of my skull, one above my orbital bone, and one to the side of my skull," he said through glasses, and with a huge black eye.

After some time and treatment in the hospital, Smith was able to vividly recall the accident.

"Instead of my whole life flashing before my eyes, it was just like a lightning flash, you know? When you look straight at the sky and you see a lightning bolt flash? That's exactly how it was," he said.

Smith said he feels lucky to be alive and home safe now, but the cost of the ambulance ride and hospital stay has him very worried.

He said even though it's only been five days since the accident, the medical bills are already piling up, a difficult bind to get out of considering he currently carries no health insurance benefits.

"Going to the hospital and going for follow-up visits and finding out that my bill is upwards to like $18,500 is tough. It's kind of outrageous to think you're on your way to work just like any other day, and then you find out that somebody hits you, and leaves you there, and now you're stuck with a bill that and you have no way to really afford to pay for it, that plus all the damage that you've had done to your face and head," Smith said.

Smith is now pleading with the driver of the vehicle that struck him to come forward, in part to help pay for his now astronomical medical bills.

"I'm not looking to get anything more as far as reimbursement, other than just my medical bills, really," Smith said.

And the Fall River resident is so determined to find out who struck and nearly killed him, that he's done his own research.

Smith told NBC 10 that after studying all of the surveillance footage from two different shops, he believes it was the driver of one particular vehicle seen in one of the video clips who struck him, and then left him for dead on Pleasant St. in Fall River at around 7 a.m. Friday morning.

"I want them to come forward, whether it be to me or to the police or to anybody, just, it's been four or five days now already, so if they can take some of that time, and just think about what's happened," he said.

Smith said he's also very grateful that Gilbert's Jewelers and Nato Insurance both shared surveillance video clips that could help to crack the case.

But, until a suspect is identified, Smith said he's so worried about his medical bills that he's now asking the public for help.

There is a fundraising dinner at the New Bedford Elks club on Saturday Aug. 3 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

If you have any information about this case, you're asked to call Fall River Police at 508-676-8511, or the Fall River Police anonymous tip line at 508-672-TIPS.