Julie Atherton, Katy Doherty and Steven Plucinski are all being hailed as good samaritans for the assistance they provided to police when a hit and run driver fled the scene last month.
The accident took place in Flushing, a suburb of Flint, where a suspected drunk driver hit another vehicle in a head-on collision, killing the driver of the second vehicle. Jonathan Robert-William Gilliam, the 28-year-old suspected hit and run driver, was apparently driving the wrong way on Main Street at about 6 am.
His vehicle smashed into Grady Gossett’s car, killing him instantly. But, fearful of the consequences, Gillian leapt from his car and fled on foot. Atherton had seen him driving the wrong way just before the collision and, already headed out in her car, she followed the fleeing suspect as he drove towards the railroad tracks.
Although Atherton lost sight of the suspect quickly, Doherty had also seen the accident. From her store nearby, she ran outside to see what had happened. Gillian ran by her and she yelled at the suspected hit and run driver to stop, which he chose not to do. But Doherty’s neighbor, Plucinski, showed up moments later and gave chase on foot.
Plucinski hadn’t even stopped to put on shoes, and chased Gillian barefoot through rocky terrain that got more and more difficult to run on. Although slowed by the lack of shoes, he followed Gillian into a wooded area and finally caught up with him. Gillian was among the trees, and had taken off his shirt.
While the two were finally together, the suspected hit and run driver spoke with Plucinski, asking him if everyone was ok. He then said that he hadn’t been responsible for the accident, but didn’t want to have to talk to the police about it. And then saying he couldn’t handle the situation right now, the suspected hit and run driver fled again.
Plucinski picked up the shirt Gillian had left behind, and then hiked all the way back to the scene of the accident. He led police, along with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, back to the spot among the trees where he and Gillian had conversed briefly.
From there, dogs used the scent from the shirt to begin searching. A helicopter was used as well. The suspected hit and run driver was finally captured, hiding near a building, some hours later.
Gillian is facing a number of very serious charges as a result of this accident. Namely murder, charges of operating while intoxicated causing death, and failing to stop at a scene of an accident causing death. In addition, he will be charged with receiving and concealing a stolen vehicle, as police say that the car he had been driving had been reported stolen in nearby Mt Morris Township.
If convicted, Gillian is looking at the very likely possibility that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.