Port Angeles police identify hit-and-run victim; driver still being sought

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PORT ANGELES — Police identified the victim of Monday night’s fatal hit-and-run as Robert Simmons, a 50-year-old Port Angeles resident described as humble and gentle by those who knew him.

Detectives on Wednesday were seeking the driver of a white, damaged vehicle that might have been involved in the accident, said interim Chief Brian Smith of the Port Angeles Police Department.

“We’re actively following up on leads as we get them,” he said.

“We’ve got right now three detectives working on this.”

Smith said those leads have lead to some “positive results,” without providing details.

Police found Simmons unconscious and barely breathing, with a faint pulse, after investigating a report of a hit-and-run at 10:47 p.m. Monday in the 2000 block of West 18th Street near a Clallam County Public Utility District building.

He stopped breathing and police performed CPR before Port Angeles Fire Department paramedics arrived, Smith said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

When police arrived they found a blood trail that led to Simmons, they said.

An autopsy for Simmons is scheduled for today.

Simmons died about three blocks from his home at Maloney Heights, a housing complex for the chronically homeless, operated by Serenity House.

For the past several months, Simmons had frequented the Salvation Army, where those who knew him described him as humble, gentle and a man of faith struggling to overcome his addiction to alcohol.

Major Sabrina Tumey said he was trying to overcome his addiction with the goal of eventually coaching youth football.

“He loved his family and he loved this town [and] he loved football,” she said.

“Alcohol was a very real thing in his life unfortunately and it made things difficult for him.”

Tumey said Simmons wanted to set a good example for the young people he hoped to coach, but knew he needed to be sober to do so.

“He wanted to do it right,” she said. “Sometimes that’s very hard.

“He wanted to do it the right way — in an honorable way.”

Melinda Nettleton, who has volunteered at the Salvation Army for over a year, said she first noticed Simmons going for lunch five or six months ago.

“He was very, very gentle and loving and hopeful,” she said.

“But he was also very sad because he wasn’t able to be the man he thought he should.”

Nettleton said Simmons told her he talked to God every day.

“We was gentle and he loved the Lord,” she said.

Efforts to reach Simmons’ family were unsuccessful.

The car that hit Simmons could be a white Geo Prizm or Toyota Corolla with significant front passenger-side damage, Port Angeles Police Detective Jason Viada said.

The Prizm was manufactured between 1989 and 2002 in the same factory as the Corolla.

The State Patrol assisted police in processing the scene and collecting evidence.

Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect vehicle and driver is asked to phone Port Angeles police at 360-452-4545 or email Officer Kyle Cooper at [email protected]

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected]

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