Family, Lewiston Police need new leads in hit-and-run

TUSCARORA INDIAN RESERVATION, N.Y. (WIVB) – Around 10:00 p.m. on February 8, 2012, 59-year-old Loren Jacobs was walking home along Mount Hope Road on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation when a driver struck him, and left him to die at the roadside.

Two-and-a-half years later, Jacobs’ death remains unsolved, a reality that both police and Jacobs’ relatives say is painful for them to live with.

“We don’t like things that aren’t solved. We don’t like questions without answers,” Sgt. Frank Previte of the Lewiston Police told News 4 on Thursday.

“I would just like to know, why?” Jacobs’ sister, Linda Hill, said.

“…Why they couldn’t let us know that night,” said his brother Roy Jacobs.

“It was like your worst fear, and it actually came true,” said Jacobs’ great-niece, Joslin Navenma. Her mother heard the crash, and ran outside to find Jacobs lying at the roadside that night. “So it’s kind of sad, that you have to go out there and see that.”

Jacobs’ relatives contacted News 4 this week, after hearing rumors that someone may have surrendered to police. The rumors are not true, but the family and police investigators agreed to talk with News 4 in the hopes that getting Jacobs’ story out again might lead to a break in the case.

What police know so far

Lewiston Police were dispatched to a 911 call about a pedestrian being hit, on Mount Hope Road on February 8, 2012. It was late, and the road was dark.

“When we arrived on-scene, we found a male on the side of the road that had been severely injured,” Sgt. Previte said. “We talked with the family very briefly, who said that they’d heard something.”

Jacobs had been struck directly in front of his sister’s house. Several family members were inside.

“They came out and looked over, saw him, and they saw taillights going down the road,” Previte said. “From that point, we were able to also speak to somebody else who did see something that gave us a lead. There was a vehicle parked in [the parking lot of] a church down the road… And they had seen some individuals outside of that vehicle. According to them, they appeared to be checking out the outside or the exterior of the vehicle.”

Over the next several days, investigators recovered pieces of a car at the crash scene, and along Mount Hope Road at various points leading to the church and in the church parking lot. GM technicians who examined the parts determined they matched and belonged to the same vehicle – a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier.

“We’re very confident,” that those pieces came from the car that struck and killed Jacobs, Previte said.

No answers

Jacobs’ death has been an open and active investigation since the day it happened. Lewiston Police say the community in Niagara County and beyond has been tremendously helpful in providing tips.

“We talked to people outside the area who were sending us photos, giving us information,” Sgt. Previte said. “We ran all of those [tips] down. We did numerous interviews.”

Police also canvassed collision shops all over Niagara County, looking to see if the driver brought the car in for repairs.

“We got a listing of all the vehicles matching that [description] that were registered anywhere in the area here, and we personally sent officers out – with the assistance of other departments as well – to check those vehicles to see if we could see… if it matched any of the damage,” Previte explained.

Despite the extensive search, every lead brought investigators to a dead end.

Over the years, Previte said, rumors that someone was about to come forward or turn him- or herself in have surfaced two or three times.

“We always hope that it’s true,” Previte said. “There’s somebody out there that knows something. Obviously, there’s somebody that was involved in this, and somebody that probably has some information that would be helpful to us.”

“This is painful for us”

Sitting together at Linda Hill’s kitchen table, Jacobs’ relatives still clearly feel the pain as intensely as the night he died.

“It’s hard to not know, wonder,” Hill said. “Whoever did it, do they have a conscience or not?”

As a volunteer firefighter, Roy Jacobs was one of the first people to reach his brother.

“I see on news, that you do, people turn themselves in. They get the idea from the public. I would like something like that to happen,” he said.

“There’s another side to every story. Maybe the person wasn’t even aware, maybe thought it was an animal or something else, wasn’t aware of what they hit because it was dark and they couldn’t see,” Sgt. Previte said. “Maybe they realized afterwards. But that has to be something… I would think it would have to be a nightmare to live with that, and keep that secret. That you had that kind of accident.”

“We don’t think this was intentional, in any way. It was an accident. Accidents happen,” Previte said. “We’re hoping for any information that anybody has concerning this case. Whether they think it’s relevant or not, if they could think back, if there’s anything that kind of sticks in their memory, something that happened that night. Maybe they thought it was insignificant. Or maybe they have first-hand knowledge. Maybe they were involved. And if it was that, I would say, it’s time to make this right.”

“Say something, let us know something,” Linda Hill said.

“Come forward,” Roy Jacobs added. “Let us know what… What they are thinking. What they thought about that night.”

“This is painful for us… Not being able to [provide answers] for a family that has lost a loved one,” Previte said.

If you have any information on Loren Jacobs’ death, please call Lewiston Police at 754-8477.

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