Local News

Woman, 80, wants driver to take responsibility for Wake Forest crash

Posted October 12, 2015 7:12 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2015 7:21 p.m. EDT

— An 80-year-old woman who was hit by a pickup truck nearly two months ago in a grocery store parking lot said Monday she wants someone to take responsibility for the crash.

Shirley Hearold made a stop a Food Lion at 12295 Capital Blvd. on Aug. 13 to pick up some cat food. Now, Hearold is facing months of rehabilitation after a crash in the parking lot.

"People yelled, 'Hey! Stop, stop, stop,'" she said. "He hit the full cart. Everything came up, the cart and everything came down on me, and I landed out on the black, filthy asphalt."

Several store employees who witnessed the crash ran to help, but the driver, 70-year-old Leon Cooke, left the scene.

"I left the scene and came straight back with my wife," Cooke said. "Even the police said that was OK."

Police said Cooke returned to the scene within a reasonable amount of time and was not charged in the crash.

"You've got four witnesses who saw this. You've got the suspect coming back and confessing to the crime. You couldn't have a more clear cut case," said Hearold's attorney, Mike Maurer.

Cooke said he checked both of his mirrors and backed out of the parking space slowly. He said that, when he realized he hit someone, he left to go get his wife because he was nervous. He believed the victim was not seriously injured and that others were taking care of her.

Following the crash, Hearold had to enter rehab and now walks with a cane. She said her knee, elbow and neck were injured, but the biggest loss is the loss of her independence.

"I don't feel comfortable being out by myself any longer," she said.

Cooke told WRAL News that he did not hear people yelling at him to stop backing out because he had his air conditioning on.

Cooke was charged with a hit and run involving property damage in 2008, but he ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge.