Alleged hit-and-run driver turns himself in; Victim grateful to be alive

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Harrison County woman left for dead on the side of the road said her survival story is one of thankfulness and heartbreak.

Early Saturday morning Judith Cuevas, 61, was driving along Interstate 10 in Gulfport when an 18-wheeler knocked her vehicle off the road and kept on going. Cuevas said she was on her way home from work when she was hit.

"All of a sudden I got whamo-ed," she said. "I started turning. The first thing I knew I was down in an embankment. I had water running in the Tracker."

Cuevas said the collision knocked her vehicle into the woods where it flipped and landed upside down in a creek.

"I said, I don't know if I'm dead or not. I heard traffic. I said, I don't think you hear traffic if you're dead. I had to be alive," Cuevas said. "I said surely the man that hit me will call 911, and someone will be here in a little bit."

Cuevas waited for help, but no one came. She believes part of the reason was her SUV wasn't visible from the road. Cuevas decided to try to get out on her own, which she said took her an hour and a half. Then wet, muddy, and disoriented, Cuevas started walking for help.

"Vehicles were coming and I tried to flag them down. They wouldn't stop," said Cuevas. "I guess they thought I was drunk or a dope head or something, but nobody would stop."

A bruised and tired Cuevas finally made it to a business and was able to call police. A day after the accident, she said she's sore, but what hurts more is that so many people wouldn't stop to help. That includes the driver, who she said left her for dead.

Cuevas said, "If he would have just called 911. If you hit somebody and if you're too afraid to stop and you don't want the call on your phone to be traced, stop at a pay phone or something. Don't put somebody's life in jeopardy."

Cuevas believes had she not been able to crawl out of her vehicle, she would not have been found for days.

Gulfport Police said late Sunday afternoon the driver involved in the hit-and-run accident turned himself in. Officers, however, are not releasing his name or the exact charges he faces.

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