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Search Continues For Driver In Lakewood Hit And Run [AUDIO]

A seventeen year old Lakewood teenager clings to life after undergoing surgery for severe head trauma following a hit and run incident in the township Sunday night. Now police are after the person behind the wheel when the accident happened.

Lakewood police cruiser
Lakewood police cruiser (TheLakewoodScoop.com)

Lakewood High School student Jenifer Gavilanez underwent surgeries for multiple brain bleeds and a severed temporal artery after she was hit by a vehicle while crossing an intersection at East County Line Road and Clifton Avenue on her way home.

As of Wednesday she remained in critical condition. At around 7:30 in the evening Gavilanez was heading northbound towards her home, and according to Lakewood police, stepped out onto the curb from the crosswalk when an eastbound vehicle hit her. Police believe the vehicle had a green light and hit Gavilanez as they were passing another car, and the teenager was crossing the street against the light.

Police are on the lookout for a suspect in the accident. Lakewood Traffic Safety patrolman David Silberstein describes as a 2005-2007 light colored Jeep Liberty as a possible person of interest in the investigation. While they were several surveillance cameras in the area, he says because of the time of day, plus the sky being dark due to incoming rain, they aren’t relying on the cameras to provide a clear picture of what happened.

Silberstein and the other members of his department are continuing to search for the suspected van, however he says vigilance from residents is also needed.

“A lot of this does come back to the public because somebody know something about this. There’s got to be someone out there who knows there neighbor’s vehicle isn’t there anymore. It’s normally outside it’s not there.”

He notes there is a good chance the SUV also sustained some damage during the accident.

“It should have front end damage on the passenger side front corner, missing the marker light and possibly part of the turn signal. And damage to the mirror on the passenger side, the mirror may still be attached to the vehicle but the glass is gone.”

Gavilanez’s tragic accident serves as a reminder of staying safe as a pedestrian says Silberstein. He says even though cars are required by law to yield towards a pedestrian; pedestrians need to only cross when it is safe to do so.

“Just because there’s a crosswalk there doesn’t mean that it’s safe to cross. You have to remember that vehicles need time to stop, they need to be able to see you. They can’t always see you especially when it’s dark.”

That also means making yourself visible at night, preferably by wearing a reflector or not wearing only dark colors. Silberstein say police believe that Galvilanez also was wearing dark colors, and combined with the time of day and low visibility from the rain approaching, made her more difficult to see.

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