Hit-and-run death leaves few clues

YOUNGSTOWN – For Officer Brian Booksing, beans are about the only clue he has in trying to solve a hit-skip accident last year that killed a man on the South Side.

The death of James Gamble, 67, at Hillman and Falls avenues on Aug. 13 is one of seven traffic deaths in the city in 2012. In 2011, the city had eight traffic fatalities.

Gamble was found about 3:30 a.m. lying in the street. Booksing said there were no pieces of a car or any other physical evidence left at the scene.

The only thing that was there was a plastic bowl of baked beans that police believe Gamble was carrying when he was killed.

”Everything we had, we followed up on,” Booksing said. ”It was like someone dropped him from the sky and put him there.”

Booksing said there was no way someone could not have known they hit someone or something.

”You would’ve known you hit something,” Booksing said.

The only witnesses were the two people in a car who saw Gamble lying in the road and called police, Booksing said. They did not witness Gamble being hit, he said.

Of the city’s seven traffic deaths in 2012, two involved impaired driving. In 2011, the city had three fatal accidents as the result of impaired driving.

Detective Sgt. Patricia Garcar, the head of the department’s Accident Investigation Unit, said that speed was the most common denominator in all fatal accidents and also the lack of seat belts.

Some of the most accident-prone roads in the city are Bears Den on the West Side, where it seems no one drives the posted speed limit and Schenley Avenue, also on the West Side, which because of its design, can lull drivers into traveling faster than they should, Garcar said.

On the East Side, McCartney Road is a trouble spot and U.S. Route 422 on the North Side, she said. Poland Avenue on the South Side causes problems for her unit also, Garcar said, because drivers often go way over the posted 35 miles per hour speed limit.

”They think they’re on the freeway,” Garcar said.

Booksing said if anyone has information about Gamble’s death, they can call the AIU at 330-742-8946.

”Sometimes people come forward,” Booksing said. ”They get consciences.”