Soldier arrested in deadly hit-and-run crash in downtown Savannah

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:47 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2021 at 4:57 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - UPDATE: The victim in Sunday’s fatal hit-and-run has been identified by GSP as 40-year-old Brandon M. Hamby.

The Georgia State Patrol says a soldier was arrested in Hinesville in connection to a deadly hit-and-run in Savannah Sunday night.

GSP says around 7 p.m. Monday, a car was found on Highway 144 on Fort Stewart with damage consistent with the deadly crash that happened at Liberty and Bull streets.

GSP says military police ran the cars tag, which showed the vehicle belonged to a soldier. They say the soldier, identified as Duane Hall, was questioned by CID and is said to have confessed.

Hall was arrested and is facing charges. He is currently being held at the Liberty County jail.

The Georgia State Patrol continues to investigate the deadly hit-and-run crash that happened late Sunday night in downtown Savannah.

According to GSP, a vehicle was fleeing from Savannah police when it struck two pedestrians at Liberty and Bull streets. One of the pedestrians died and the other was seriously injured.

Savannah Police tell us officers spotted the driver speeding on East Broad Street at Oglethorpe Avenue around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. An officer tried to pull the car over, but the driver would not stop. Savannah Police ended the pursuit at Habersham Street, due to safety factors and according to the department’s pursuit policy.

Shortly after, the driver hit two people at Liberty and Bull Streets - killing one person and injuring the other.

While this was a very specific situation where the suspect was running from police, this death has city leaders discussing the bigger picture of overall pedestrian safety in Savannah.

The mayor and police chief both talked about pedestrian safety Tuesday at the mayor’s weekly news conference.

“We have to make sure on both ends, exercising safe behaviors as pedestrians and exercising safe behavior as drivers, so we’ll talk with the city manager and the chief and maybe we need to really do a blitz on that campaign,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

The city’s police chief says he supports any steps the mayor wants to take to make pedestrians safer.

“We’re in favor of anything that helps to keep our city safe in any areas, whether it’s traffic enforcement, whether it’s crime,” said Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter.

The mayor didn’t talk about any specific measures to be taken at this intersection, but we’ll continue to check in on the city’s plans for increased pedestrian safety.

WTOC spoke with some employees at businesses near the scene who describe the horrific incident.

“It’s still-I can’t wrap my mind around that that was the sound of this car impacting two human beings. It sounded like an explosion,” said Kate Ainsworth who works at Six Pence Pub.

Kate Ainsworth works at Six Pence on Bull and Liberty streets. Sunday night, she says she was on a break outside when she heard a loud noise followed by screaming.

“I can’t understand how this person could just plow through these people and have so little regard for their lives. It was awful.”

Just across the street at The Public Kitchen and Bar, Connor Coen hopes the City can help make the area safer.

“The foot traffic on this road is a lot more. Cars go ridiculously fast they don’t really slow down for anything,” Coen said.

He thinks speed bumps would help with that.

“We have like three restaurants, four, five restaurants like right around here. People need to be aware that there are going to be cars that are going ridiculously fast through here.”

Just across the street at Mellow Mushroom, Kristin Rodery says after Sunday’s hit and run, she’s been cautious about her surroundings.

“A lot of the times people wills stop half a block down and wave you over, but that’s still in the back of our heads every time you cross the street. As a person who doesn’t own a car myself, that’s definitely something in the last 24 hours I’ve been more conscious about, is making sure the coast is clear, there’s nobody speeding at me and being really grateful when people do stop,” Rodery said.

Pedestrian deaths in the Historic District

WTOC Investigates looked at injury and death data involving drivers and pedestrians in the Historic District.

On average, 11 pedestrians are hit each month in Savannah. That’s according to Savannah Police data we analyzed over the past five years.

Most of those crashes happened in the Historic District. Here’s a closer look at the ones on Liberty Street.

This year – three separate crashes have injured three pedestrians and killed one. That includes the crash on Sunday night at Liberty and Bull.

Earlier this year, another crash occurred on July 13, when a driver hit and injured a pedestrian crossing at Liberty and Montgomery streets – just after 10 p.m. And farther east, at the intersection of Liberty and East Broad streets, is where a driver hit and injured a pedestrian crossing around 1 a.m. on February 13.

Looking at Liberty Street as a whole, going back to January of 2016 - 13 pedestrians were hit, 11 of those injured and two of them killed, including the person on Sunday.

If you’d like to learn more about the intersections and where the pedestrian crashes occurred on Liberty, you can do so in the interactive map below:

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