Mac Cantrell was driving north on Second Avenue Wednesday night when he witnessed a 55-year-old homeless woman struck and killed by an SUV as she appeared to step into traffic.
“It was not so much what I saw as what I heard,” said Cantrell, who had just finished working out and had his windows down and no radio on. “I saw a quick flash, then I heard this noise. What I heard was the lady’s body hitting the bus stop sign.”
The woman was identified at Eyiloni Bonner, according to Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan. She listed her address as 2221 Second Ave., Homeless Resource Network, Bryan said. Homeless Resource Network is not a shelter, but helps those who are homeless find services and gives them an address to receive mail.
Bonner died of blunt-force trauma to head, Bryan said.
“We have not been able to find next of kin,” Bryan said. “By releasing her name we are hoping someone will come forward.”
The woman was hit directly across from the Open Door Community House near 24th Street. There is a bus stop and bench just off the northbound lane. It is a poorly lit stretch of four-land road leading in and out of downtown Columbus.
The Ford SUV was driven by a Fortson woman. Police are still investigating, said Lt. Tony Danford, but no charges have been filed against the driver.
Cantrell, who was about 100 feet behind the SUV driver, said he does not believe the driver ever saw the woman. And from his perspective, he did not see the driver do anything illegal.
“The lady never touched her brakes and there were no skid marks,” said Cantrell, a Columbus businessman.
The SUV was going about 35 miles per hour, Cantrell said.
Cantrell called 911 at 6:03 p.m. The woman who was hit was thrown out of the road and behind the bus stop sign.
Motorists stopped to help. The woman who was hit was tended to by several people. “One of them said they could not find a pulse,” Cantrell said.
The driver was distraught, Cantrell said.
“She was sitting on the bench sobbing, while the body laid next to her,” he said.
The victim was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. in the emergency room of Midtown Medical Center.
Though there are no crosswalks in the immediate area, many pedestrians cross Second Avenue along that stretch. There are organizations that help the homeless and needy in that area, a public housing complex and a convenience store.
Cantrell, who travels that road often, said he noticed how dark it was in the aftermath of the accident.
“I really believe if there had been proper lighting, the woman would have seen her and stopped,” Cantrell said.