10/31/2014

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Mom turns detective to track down hit-and-run driver

Mom turns detective to track down hit-and-run driver

BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. – Karen Munger is on a mission and working to find the driver who plowed into her daughter's car and then drove away.

They're taking to Facebook and offering a $250 reward asking people to watch the streets around Clark County for a red Jeep Grand Cherokee with major damage to the front side.

And with the lead investigator off for several days, Karen Munger is doing much more than playing amateur detective.

"It makes my stomach hurt every time I look at it," she said, looking at what's left of her daughter's Honda Civic after the hit-and-run crash that led to a horrific phone call:

"I heard, 'Hit me off the road. Rochelle's bleeding, Rochelle's bleeding. Oh my God, Mom, Rochelle's bleeding!" Karen recalled.

"I'm surprised I'm alive, I really am," said daughter LaKell. "I'm surprised me and my friend actually made it through this, because looking at the damage it's just crazy."

LaKell doesn't remember getting hit from behind or how her car spun into a fire hydrant, badly damaging the side. The impact knocked loose the passenger seat and sent LaKell and her friend, Rochelle, to the hospital.

"I have really bad whiplash up my neck, every single muscle in my neck hurts – burns like fire," LaKell said.

"The driver of that vehicle could not possible have known that they were OK. And he left them – that driver left those girls like that," Karen said.

Now Karen is determined to find the driver using her own detective skills. She turned to an auto body shop owner for help piecing together from debris left behind at the scene the kind of vehicle that hit LaKell's car.

It turned out the vehicle was a red Jeep Grand Cherokee with a model year between 1999 and 2004.

And even better, the passenger's father noticed something on LaKell's broken bumper.

"There's a partial imprint of the license plate," Karen said.

She hopes the license plate imprint is enough to find the driver.

"It's going to be really hard for this person to hide," Karen said.

Just as important, though, her daughter knows how far she'll go to protect her.

"Any parent would be doing this for their child," Karen said. "You don't mess with my family."

And the Munger family isn't messing around offering that $250 reward. If you spot that red Jeep Grand Cherokee with front-end damage around Brush Prairie, they're hoping you'll call the Clark County Sheriff's Office.

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