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Frantic 911 call released in teen hit-and-run crash

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Updated: 11/18/2013 8:37 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office released a desperate 911 call from the night 15-year-old Haley Smith was struck and killed in a hit-and-run crash.

Smith's family visited the crime scene Monday morning to witness St. Johns County workers put up a marker in her memory.

The victim's mother, Jo-Lee Manning, said Smith was looking forward to celebrating her sweet 16th on Dec 7. Her life was taken on Saturday night; police said it happened on Kenton Morrison Road around 8:30 p.m. when she was hit by a pickup truck after leaving a nearby Publix.

"Not understanding why or how someone could hurt her and leave her unattended," said Manning.

Manning said for her, the marker is a realization that her little girl is not coming back, but she hopes it will generate leads in the case.

"I hope that whoever did this, that every time they ride by, they see that marker and they think about what they've done," said Manning.

Police have very little to go on, but Action News has learned investigators are looking through surveillance video from nearby businesses.

A recording of a 911 call made moments after the crash captured the frantic calls for help from a witness:

Caller: I need help, please!

Dispatcher: Sir, we need you to calm down and start to cooperate with us. I need you to answer some questions for us. Where did the vehicle go that hit her, and what did it look like?

Caller: "I couldn't tell; it was dark. All I heard was a noise. All I saw was the backlights. It kept going."

Brittany Szczepanik said while nothing can bring her cousin back, her family needs justice to heal.

"I just wish to know that she could've lived longer than I did because she did not deserve this," said Szczepanik.

Grief counselors were at St. Augustine High School, where Smith was a sophomore.

Services will be held on Wednesday at Moultrie Baptist Church at 10 a.m. A fund has been set up at Community First Credit Union to help the family pay for funeral arrangements. People can make a donation at any branch by using account number: 773014.

Police believe the suspect may be driving a gold pickup truck and was last seen fleeing south on Holmes Boulevard. Anyone with information that could help police make an arrest is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS.
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