Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tragedy at Baltimore City Hall. Police confirm the driver of an out-of-control car that crashed and killed a community leader is free. But will there be charges?
Mike Hellgren looks at the developing investigation and speaks to the victim’s brother.
Police say the man who plowed into Matt Hersl is out of the hospital, and out on the streets.
Matthew Hersl was leaving work when authorities say a speeding Acura slammed into him, killing him and leaving many others shaken.
“It’s like something you see in a movie,” said city worker Christina Moore. “Your brain saying, ‘I know he’s not coming.’ Sad for my co-worker. I don’t even think he knew what hit him because he got hit from the back.”
“Bam. I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ I hung up the phone and started running. Everyone else started running,” said city worker Forest Henson.
“It makes you think when you cross the streets around here, especially when you see a state trooper and Baltimore City Police,” said Charles Adcock, another city worker.
“I’m extremely saddened by the news, and again my prayers, and I hope the prayers of our city, are with his family,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“To have a tragedy like this happen is just heartbreaking,” said City Council President Jack Young.
Hersl’s brother Stephen says the family is not focused on the investigation, but on the tributes to Matt’s legacy.
“We never imagined it would be such an outpouring of love that Matt was going to get. He deserved it, and we are very appreciative of the outpouring of love he has gotten,” he said. “At this point, we’re not worried about what happened.”
City leaders honored Hersl Wednesday morning for his 28 years of service to Baltimore.
The memorial on the stoop of his home is awash in orange and black. Hersl was a huge Orioles fan and active in the Little Italy community.
“He always put the community first, always wanted to help make it a better place for everybody,” said neighbor Jim Palermo.
He served on several community organizations and helped run Citizens on Patrol.
Amid the sadness, some are outraged over the lack of charges in the case.
Police tell WJZ a trooper spotted the driver of the Acura rapidly approaching him on the JFX and turned on his rear flashing lights. He estimates the car was going more than 100 miles an hour before the driver veered off the Pleasant Street exit, ran several lights and crashed.
State Police say they were not chasing the car.
Police have identified the state trooper as Zachary Mills, who has been on the job for six years.
“Trooper did not activate his front lights until after the crash occurred and he was trying to get to the crash scene safely,” said State Police spokesperson Sgt. Marc Black.
The driver of the car jumped out and tried to run, but witnesses stopped him.
“I grabbed the guy by his dreadlocks, pulled him down to the ground, stepped on his neck and said don’t move,” said Cesar Lithgow.
At this point, police have not released the name of the 43-year-old driver of the Acura. He has been released from the hospital, but he is not in police custody or charged.
State police explained to WJZ they must first complete the investigation and forward it to the city state’s attorney, who will ultimately decide any charges.
Meanwhile, Hersl’s family is preparing for a funeral on Friday.
“We’re humbled and greatly appreciative for all the people who showed love for Matt. We want to thank everyone,” said Stephen Hersl.
Visiting hours will be held Thursday, April 11 from 2-9 p.m. at Zannino Funeral Home on S. Conkling Street.
The funeral will be held Friday, April 12. Visiting hours will be held from 9-10 a.m. at Zannino Funeral Home. It will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Leo’s the Great Church on S. Exeter Street.