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Posted on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Police identify man killed in hit and run; driver still sought

By John Counts


A man was found critically injured on West Liberty early Friday morning.

Daniel Brenner |

No one has stepped forward in last week's hit-and-run death of a man near Ann Arbor, police said.

The victim was identified by authorities Tuesday as 52-year-old James Samons.

Samons lived in Scio Township, within a few miles of where he was found critically injured on West Liberty around 2 a.m. Friday, said Sgt. Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office.

A passing motorcyclist discovered Samons in the roadway in the 4400 block of West Liberty and called 911. The vehicle that had hit him was gone, police said. Authorities pronounced Samons dead soon after arriving on scene.

“He had significant trauma to the head,” Fox said.

Samons may have already been lying in the roadway when he was struck, according to police who said they have responded to several previous calls reporting Samons intoxicated and in the road.

Police said last week that Samons' injuries and the amount of debris left behind by the vehicle also indicates he may have been in the road before the accident.

Samons was known to walk the Scio Township area where he was found, police said.

“He didn’t have a car," Fox said. "If he went anywhere, he’d walk."

Fox confirmed Tuesday Samons did have alcohol in his system when he died, although he could not say how much.

Police continue to look for the driver involved in the hit and run. If you have any information, please contact the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office at (734) 994-2911 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Condolences to family and friends, regardless of what led up to this tragedy.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:43 a.m.

We don't know that it was a hit and run.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

More detail about lighting, clothing and posible road/impact positioning are needed to say the driver was even aware of what happened. If I hit a large dark lump in the road at night I wouldn't bother stopping either. It is far more likely to encounter blankets, backpacks, animals, tires, wood, and other dark heavy debris on the roads around here than sleeping people. Clearly the man posed a threat to all motorists which was not dealt with before something serious did finally happen so that should lessen any at-fault if the driver is afraid to come in about jail. The police should broadcast the incident and ask the greater public for help if the driver has no clue about what happened. I have heard of some very serious crash injuries incurred by the drivers of vehicles who have successfully avoided hitting drunken road walkers elsewhere only to lose control of their rigs and become the victims.

Jack Gladney

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

I find it disgustingly incredible how this blog allows people to speculate about and/or cast aspersions regarding the character of the victim in this incident. Not a week ago we were all cautioned to be sensitive on speculating on why a father would endanger a child's life on Lake Michigan because friends and family read this blog. I guess it has to do with social class or community standing as to about what one can speculate.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Jack, as a reminder please be sure to flag any comment you think violate our guidelines. We'll be sure to review them and remove as needed. Thanks.

Jack Gladney

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

@Solitude: I never stated anything about the reporting in John's article, and you obviously did not get to read the deleted comments on this board (some of which were posted here for hours)


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:13 a.m.

Where exactly do you see anything about the victim's character? Nowhere. Reporting the fact that he had alcohol in his system at the time of death is just as relevant as reporting when drivers have alcohol in their systems if they are involved in a crash. There's been no determination yet as to fault here, and in fact the person who hit this guy may not even know they hit a person. As startling as it may seem, people who choose to be out walking in the road in the dark do bear some responsibility for their own fate, regardless of whether they end up dead or not.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

"Police said last week that Samons' injuries and the amount of debris left behind by the vehicle also indicates he may have been in the road before the accident." I don't understand this statement. Can someone clarify?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

it is saying that he's been known to be intoxicated and lying in the road around this area before. plain & simple.

Jack Gladney

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

Pretty simple, I think... I read it that the type of debris that was found at the scene (perhaps a wheel cover or lower auto body parts (from say a front air foil or fog lamps) and the injuries to the victim indicate that the vehicle most likely collided with him at a low angle or that the victim was lying prostrate relative to the vehicle.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

No matter how this happened it is nothing but sad. RIP Mr. Samons.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

Thank you, justcurious, for being the first to say RIP. This is a very sad story.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

I do hope the driver comes forward, but I can see hitting someone on that road at night without knowing what it was.....particularly if the victim was lying in or near the road. Put yourself in the driver's shoes for a minute before you vilify him/her.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Same thing with the accident last year. No one has come forward on that one either. Could be years before anything is known. Good luck finding anyone to come forward. No one did on 23 and I highly doubt anyone will in this one.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

HI jns. If you're referring to this accident regarding the US-23, a driver did turn over a vehicle to police for their investigation:

Ann English

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Someone named Jonathan Loop was hit and killed by a hit-and-run driver years ago, about where drivers can get off northbound US-23 and get on westbound I-96. That driver had thought he hit a deer. He didn't get away with it.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

I feel the news reporting on the death of James Samons went a bit beyond what the puplic needs to know. Without any feeling for the family of the man killed, the news reporter felt a need to characterize Mr. Samons as a drunk. Does this serve any purpose other than to embarrass and hurt the family of the man killed? Did you check to see if his socks matched? Maybe you should wait for an autopsy before you start placing labels on the man.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

uh, maybe you didn't read the same article that I read, but it stated nothing but facts and cast no aspersions. You seem to be the one making the accusation. Also, the article stated, clearly, "Samons did have alcohol in his system when he died," according to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Dept. So, what is your beef?

lucinda walsh

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

The info about previous happenings may encourage the driver to come forward.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

I don't see a statement anywhere in the article that says he was a drunk. The article consists of facts that are relevant to the story. It's unfortunate that your interpretation casts the victim in a negative light.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

Very sorry to read this news. Hate to be picky, could you please correct the spelling of his name? In the article it appears as Samson.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

why the negative votes for correcting his name? He was a human being and needs to be represented properly in the story - respect the deceased properly. geesh.

John Counts

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

This has been fixed. Thanks.

Hugh Giariola

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

@John Counts, I thought the previous article stated that the deceased man had prior run-ins with the sheriff for the exact same thing (lying in the road). Is that not the case?

Hugh Giariola

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Thanks John, read it 3X and still missed it.

John Counts

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

It is the case. It says it in this story, too. "(Police) have responded to several previous calls reporting Samons intoxicated and in the road."


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

That area is very heavy with deer, nearly always afew carcasses along that stretch. Perhaps someone just thinks they ran over a deer.

lucinda walsh

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

I think about the time of day. There are those who wouldn't stop if they thought it was a deer.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Billy - Your analysis would work if the person's car had comprehensive insurance. If he/she only carried Liability then there is no reason to pull over.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Good point Billy. I would also try to make sure the deer wasn't just lying there injured. You can call the police and they will put it out of it's misery.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

That is a valid point Fred, I had not considered that.

John Counts

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

They do not have a suspect vehicle description of any kind.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Ann The case you site might have had some specific debris that this case does not have. This case is 4 days old wait and see.

Ann English

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

So you're saying that the debris from the vehicle didn't identify the vehicle. I do remember a news story years ago about an EMU student bicycling one night, and he was hit and killed by someone driving a Ford Aspire; the debris at the scene there in Ypsilanti told them so.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:07 p.m.

Do they have any indication at all what kind of vehicle it was?


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

The responsible party needs to come forward. I can't image living with that on my conscience.

Lake Trout

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

In previous articles, the deceased individual was known to law enforcement from previous incidents including laying on the road. In the dark on a quiet road as Liberty is in that area, if someone were to be dressed in dark clothing laying on the road, I can understand why someone may not have realized that they ran over a person. I'm not saying he was laying in the road, just that a history has beenimplied. If the driver is not someone from the area - since it was a holiday weekend and people travel and visit - it is possible that they may not know about this at all, assuming they had hit an animal, pothole or any other debris that ends up on our roads.

lucinda walsh

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

If the driver thought it was a deer and they have "life circumstances" they don't want to expose I can imagine this happening.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

jns131, I'm pretty sure the concept of hit-and-run is more than 30 years old. I recently saw an educational film from the 1940s, aimed at teenagers, about a high school boy who hit someone with his car, sped away, and wasn't going to turn himself in. I think their have been awful people amongst us since the beginning of time.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

Goes with this day and age. No one in this day and age takes responsibility for anything anymore. Sad but true. 30 years ago? Yup. Now? Nope.


Tue, Jul 9, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

LaMusica, I agree but unfortunately some people don't seem to have a conscience. Mind-blowing, huh?