Crime & Courts

Victim's wife hopes for second arrest in hit-and-run

It could be two years before doctors and loved ones learn whether David Neal will ever grow up again.

"It's like... he's a little kid again," Tessy Neal said of her 39-year-old husband, who suffered a serious brain injury and other injuries when he was hit by a car. He was struck as he crossed the street with his cousin shortly before 10 p.m. April 3 in the 1100 block of North Cleveland.

Robert Ryder, 25, was killed as two cars sped north. Police initially suspected the cars were street racing, but interviews with witnesses indicated it was more likely a case of road rage.

Residents of the neighborhood told police they had heard two cars driving south at high speeds on Cleveland, and the two drivers apparently turned around and were racing back north at the time of the collision.

One of the drivers returned to the scene, telling police he thought he had hit something.

Kevin Lamont Williams Sr., 52, is charged with involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, and aggravated battery. His trial has been set for June 28.

A second person has not been arrested in connection with the collision.

"The investigation is ongoing and detectives are currently following up on multiple leads to identify the second driver involved in the incident," Lt. Joe Schroeder of the Accident Follow-Up Unit said in an e-mail.

If sufficient evidence is gathered to identify the second driver, he said, it will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office.

Tessy Neal admits to frustration that the second driver hasn't been found and arrested. Her husband of nearly three years was in a coma for three days after the collision.

The cousins were going for a late-night walk to cool off after a heated argument with relatives.

David Neal is now in a rehabilitation hospital outside of Wichita, Tessy Neal said. It could take another two years to find out just how much function he will be able to regain, she said.

The Neals were visiting relatives in Wichita, and David had just landed a job in El Dorado starting the following Monday.

He was a painter by trade and also worked in construction and roofing, Tessy said. He loved to fish and spar and watch mixed martial arts, wrestling and football.

He has five children ages 8 to 18, she said. The oldest two want to come down from their home in Oregon and confront the person who did this to their father, she said, while the youngest three have retreated.

"I don't think they can handle it," she said.

David was the kind of guy who would be quick to lend a hand to someone who needed help, Tessy said, and never ask for pay.

"He was a really sweet man," she said.

And he has been her rock, she said, ever since they began dating more than five years ago. Now she will have to be his.

If he is left with diminished function as a result of the brain injury, she said, it will be another year or two of special training so he can learn some sort of trade.

"I'm probably going to have to be the main source of income," she said. "That's going to be hard."

For now, all she can do is wait and watch for progress.

"He gets so agitated, he doesn't follow any commands or anything," she said.

She has been living in a tent at a campground near the hospital because she can't afford anything else, she said. She's hoping a nearby shelter will have space for her soon.

"I don't have a job, I don't have a place to stay, I don't have anything," she said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Accident Follow-Up Unit at 316-268-4167 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Anonymous tips can also be sent to Crime Stoppers by texting CRIMES (274637) and beginning the tip with TIP217, or through the Internet at www.wichitasedgwickcountycrimestoppers.com.

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