SEDRO WOOLLEY,Wash.- If ever a man enjoyed being a grandfather, it was 56-year-old Roger Ballenger. One of his family s favorite photosshows Roger Ballenger grinning at his five grandchildren who are laughing and ignoring commands to look at the camera. It was taken after a big family dinner.
Fatal hit & run devastates Western Washington family
Whether it was a new birth or just another birthday, the Ballengers celebrated together.And Roger was the heart and center of thefamily.
But Wednesday evening, January 25, Roger Ballenger s oldest son, Josh, got a phone call that changed everything.It was a call from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
My heart sank instantly and I knew. I said, Is it my father? They said, Well, we re not sure. Could you give us some identifiers? It was him.It was him, said Josh Ballenger tearfully.
Roger Ballenger had been hit walking along Minkler Road in Sedro Woolley.He d gotten off a Skagit Valley Transit bus about 6:30 pm and was heading to his home a short distance away.
His family has searched the narrow country road for clues.
Well, it s not well lit, said Roger Ballenger s brother, Steve.
The road is narrow, there s no shoulder and Roger Ballenger was walking in the dark.
Steve Ballenger s mind is full of questions for his brother.
Why didn t you call me?Just call me? he said.Steve Ballenger said he lives close by and would have given Roger a ride.
Roger had an artificial hip that was giving him trouble. He d also sprained his ankle recently and he was diabetic.He could have stumbled.
He was probably trying to catch himself or something and landed in the middle of the road, Steve Ballenger said.
There was one witness that night.A man driving home from work saw Roger Ballenger fall into the road and pulled his car to a stop.Adam Waldron said that he put on his emergency lights and flashed his headlights, trying to get the attention of other motorists. Waldron said the truck he saw approaching never slowed down -- it hit Roger Ballenger and kept going.
Waldron said another car did stop and the woman driving was a nurse who tried to help Ballenger while Waldron called 911.Waldron said Ballenger was moaning and trying to talk. He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center where he died.
The King County Medical Examiner s Office listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma injuries sustained in an accident.
The Ballengers are hoping the driver of the truck will come forward.They say it would give them the answers they need and it would give Roger Ballenger s death some dignity.
I would just like to know that there isn t somebody out there that is so cold that they re not going to even think that it may have possibly been them and not do anything about it.I personally wouldn t be able to live with myself, said Josh Ballenger.
Roger Ballenger s family said he was a man of his word, something he probably learned when he served in the U.S. Marines.
Daughter Rihannin said that in her entire life, her father has broken only one promise the promise to be at her side at her wedding this summer.
He just told me that he was going to be there.He wouldn t let anything get in the way.He was going to be there to walk me down the aisle.
The Washington State Patrol is asking anyone with information to contact them. Just think if it was your family, your family member got hit and killed, what would you want somebody to do? said Trooper Keith Leary.
Leary said most hit and run accidents go unsolved.
What it s going to take is to have the person or persons who drove through that roadway that night that struck this gentleman to come forward and talk to us. We re not going to put those folks in handcuffs, we re not going to drag them to jail, we simply want them to come and speak with us if they have any information that they can offer up.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Charles Sletten at (360) 654-1204
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