by: Ken Lemon Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have arrested a driver accused of fatally hitting a man who was walking in west Charlotte and driving off.
Jerry Lynn Helms, 52, has been charged with felony hit-and-run.
Officers were called around 11:30 p.m. Sunday to Freedom Drive at Ashley Road. Malcolm Timothy Cherry, who is known to his family as "Timmy," was pronounced dead at the scene.
(Malcolm Timothy Cherry)
A witness told detectives that a white SUV ran a red light on Ashley Road and turned onto Freedom Drive and hit 51-year-old Cherry. The driver continued onto I-85 southbound, according to police.
(Jerry Lynn Helms)
Investigators believe the driver was in a white Honda Pilot. They said the car will likely have damage to the front left side and will be missing a fog light and the fog light housing.
A friend brought Cherry a meal.
He was headed to a convenience store across Freedom Drive to get a drink. He made it to the median and witnesses said the SUV hit him there.
Sandra Cherry Killian, Cherry’s sister, said she knows he is in heaven.
"We want closure here on Earth so we know nothing like this happens again to anybody,” Killian said.
Killian said that closure will come with the answer of the question that still lingers for them: Why?
"Please... we just want, we just want to know why you wouldn't help him,” Killian said. “Why you didn't help him? Why you didn't stop, at least?"
Police said Helms ran the red light while turning left on Freedom Drive and drove past a place where Cherry stopped to talk to friends earlier that day.
"We heard a crash,” a witness said. “The man stopped for a split second and then drove off."
The witness rushed over to help, but he said Cherry had no pulse.
"By the time we got across the street, in just five seconds, five seconds, he is already gone,” the witness said.
Cherry's friends wrote messages on a makeshift memorial wall at the place where they last spoke.
Matthew Williams, another friend, placed balloons at the spot where Cherry died.
"And it hurts. He going to be missed,” Williams said.
"(Cherry) was a special person and he deserved better than this,” Killian said.
Cherry's friends said they will hold a candlelight vigil for him around 11 p.m. Monday.
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