Hit-and-run victim recovering at home
Robert Freeman Wilson walks with a cane and an uneasy gait. He still has pain in his ribcage, and sees double when he looks to the right. His hands still ache, and he is trying to wean himself off of pain medicine.
He does breathing exercises with a device to help keep his damaged lung inflated. He is just now relearning to sleep lying down in his bed.
Wilson, 58, is lucky to be alive. On Oct. 16, someone driving a Hyundai Elantra ploughed over Wilson and his 2008 Suzuki Scooter motorcycle about 11 p.m. while he was driving on Wilkesboro Boulevard. Wilson had just left a friend's house in Wilkesboro and was heading toward his home at 1690 Graystone Place in Lenoir. He suffered a partially collapsed lung, at least four broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and numerous broken bones in his hands.
Wilson was released from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte a few days later. He remembers nothing of the accident, and little else from that night except for the sound and vibrations of the helicopter blades as he was flown to the hospital.
Police also have little information to track down the hit-and-run driver. One witness reported that the Hyundai was "flying" down the road and never even slowed down after hitting Wilson. The witness was torn between chasing after the driver or tending to Wilson as he lay in the road. He chose the latter.
"Typically, we would get tag numbers in these kinds of incidents," said Sgt. Mark Barlowe of the Lenoir Police Department. "This has been difficult because of the time of night and the low visibility."
The few leads police had to work on have dried up. The only evidence left at the scene of the car was a piece of the front bumber and a grill logo. Finding the car will be key to eventually making an arrest.
"Somebody out there knows who the driver is," Barlowe said. "We've called body shops and Hyundai car dealers. The car was too new to not be fixed. We are aggresively investigating this case. If we find the car, it would be a huge step in the right direction."
Police are looking for a gray 2012 to 2014 Hyundai Elantra hatchback or sedan with front-end damage. Anyone with information is asked to call Lenoir-Caldwell Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300.
Wilson, who has been riding motorcycles since he was 17, said he would not let this near-death experience stop him from riding again soon.
"This was the first real bad accident I've had," he said. "(Riding a motorcycle) is spiritual for me."