“Just looking to see if anybody has any information… so we can pick up the pieces and go on.”
Those were some of the words spoken by Darryl Wilhelm in a video statement to whoever might visit the Riley County Police Department’s Facebook or Twitter pages. Mr. Wilhelm and his wife, Donna, are trying to pick up the pieces after their daughter, Amber, 21, was severely injured in a hit-and-run incident at about 2 a.m. Friday near Bluemont Avenue and 12th Street.
A pedestrian, Ms. Wilhelm, a K-State senior, was no match for what has been described as a pickup truck with an extended cab.
Much still isn’t known, but a couple of things seem evident. One is that Ms. Wilhelm is fighting for her life in the critical care unit at Stormont- Vail Hospital in Topeka. Her father said, “We drove here to find her laying in bed with tubes hooked up everywhere.”
Also evident is that there is at least one person who knows what happened. That, of course, is the driver of the pickup truck.
It’s not known whether a man or a woman was behind the wheel of that pickup, whether the driver was young or old, alone in the cab or even sober at the time. Fear of failing a blood-alcohol test certainly could be a motive to flee. But it wouldn’t justify it.
Perhaps the driver simply panicked. That might be understandable after a traffic accident, but it’s no excuse for leaving a badly injured human being behind.
The driver might escape trouble with the law, and perhaps some time behind bars, if he or she never comes forward, if the vehicle is never positively identified and if the driver can keep this terrible secret.
Trouble is, unless the driver has no conscience, such a secret can eat away indefinitely at its owner, interfering with sleep and invading one’s private moments, resurfacing every time he or she gets in that truck to go somewhere. And then there’s the fear that the police, having received a tip, will knock on the door.
There really is no getting away with this awful offense.
If you are the driver, realize that even though the injury to Amber Wilhelm was accidental, the pain that continues to afflict her parents is not; it is willful. We urge you to summon the courage and turn yourself in. Enough harm has been done.