Teen driver eluding police kills man mowing lawn in Newport News

(NEWPORT NEWS,Va.)Police say a 17-year-old girl struck and killed a man mowing grass Friday afternoon in Newport News.

42-year-old Arnold Coates died after being hit on Red Oak Circle around 3:30 p.m., according to police.

“He was a very nice guy. He always took care of his yard and took care of his car,” said Michael Chiesa, longtime best friend and next door neighbor. “He would do anything to help you out.”

Police say the situation started two blocks from Coates’ home around 3:22 p.m. Officers say they pulled over 34-year Shawn Collier at Tyner and Richneck Roads to serve a drug-related warrant.

As officers arrested Collier, who was wanted in Henrico and Chesterfield, they say the 17-year-old hopped in the front seat and drove away from the traffic stop.

Even after hitting Coates outside of his home a few minutes later, police say the teen driver kept going.

“It says they are not human. How can you do that? How can you not stop and look and see if he is okay?” said Brandy McCreery.

The girl ultimately slammed into an SUV just a few houses down, and police say she tried to run once more.

“Air bags deployed, she’s shaking her head, door opens up, feet come out, she takes off running, full sprint,” recalled Peter Chandler, another neighbor mowing his yard a few houses down.

Police say the driver ran to a nearby home, used their phone to call a relative and ultimately surrendered to officers at the scene.

Chiesa describes Coates as an Army veteran, a man with a big heart and a well-liked guy.

“Tomorrow is not promised,” said Chiesa. “All you got is today. So, if you got somebody you love, you have to tell them you love them every night, because you never know what’s going to happen.”

The 17-year-old was wanted on an active warrant out of Henrico County for a robbery. She was listed as a runaway, according to police.

The Newport News Fire Department brought lawn equipment to the neighborhood to help the family with yard work. Firefighters said they did not want credit for the act.

Police are still investigating the crash, but they say charges are pending against the driver.

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