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Family sought
Of pedestrian who died after struck by car
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Manley M. “Lee” Lawrence

Friday, February 21, 2014

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

A local landlord is trying to find the family of one of her tenants who was involved in a traffic accident and recently died.

Pedestrians Manley M. “Lee” Lawrence, 55, of Spring Drive, Collinsville, and Phillip Hayes, 47, who lives in another apartment at the same address, were struck by a car about 7:12 p.m. Dec. 23 on U.S. 220, according to Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Eric Malone.

Lawrence died on Feb. 10, Trooper W.J. Hall said he was told by Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Hall, the investigating trooper in the case, said the two men had gone to a Citgo station to buy snacks and were crossing U.S. 220 headed back home when the accident occurred. Both men were wearing dark-colored clothing, Hall said.

According to statements included in the state police incident report, a 2008 Scion XB, operated by a South Carolina resident, was traveling south on U.S. 220 in the right lane, Malone said.

The Scion allegedly “struck two pedestrians when they stepped out in front of the vehicle,” Malone read from the report.

The driver stopped and called for help, Hall said.

No charges were filed in connection with the incident, according to Malone.

Both Lawrence and Hayes were taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Malone said.

Hall said he was told by EMS workers at the scene that neither pedestrian’s injuries appeared to be life-threatening. As a result, he said he was surprised when the hospital called him before Lawrence died, looking for his family members.

Hall said according to the preliminary autopsy, Lawrence died of multiple blunt force injuries received in a pedestrian motor vehicle accident.

Hayes has been released from the hospital.

The troopers’ accounts confirm some of what Betty Gordon said she was told by hospital officials in Roanoke.

Gordon, who rents the apartments at 285 Spring Drive, said hospital officials contacted her on Feb. 11 and told her that Lawrence had died. They also asked for her help finding information to contact his next of kin.

But so far, Gordon has not had any success.

She does know that Lawrence arrived in the area with his girlfriend.

“The way they came here was a mystery,” Gordon said. “They had got on a bus in Ohio, and went to her sister’s in Stuart.” Later, the two went to the Dutch Inn.

They found Gordon’s number and called about the vacant apartment, she said. Lawrence and his girlfriend — who has since left the area — “came here in a taxi cab.”

Lawrence had been living in the apartment for “roughly two years,” Gordon added.

On the night of Dec. 23, Gordon said Lawrence — “we called him ‘Lee’” — and Hayes had been to a convenience store across U.S. 220.

She did not know what prompted them to go to the store that night, but she said Lawrence “usually went to get cigarettes. They were crossing the street to go back to the apartment building when they both got hit. So many of my tenants walk across to that store. I wish there was some way they could put up a pedestrian crossing or something,” she said.

After the two were struck, Gordon said she regularly called the hospital to check on their conditions, but she was unable to visit because of her own health issue.

She did not talk to Lawrence though, and “I don’t know if he regained consciousness. He was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) most of the time,” Gordon said hospital staff told her.

Lawrence also “was on a ventilator and they were trying to locate the next of kin,” Gordon said. She knew that because hospital staff also called her — many times — seeking information about Lawrence’s family before he died.

It was during a call in February to check on Lawrence’s condition that Gordon said “the nurse said they had put him in a room. They took him off the ventilator, and moved him into a room. I thought that meant he was doing better,” until she got the Feb. 11 call telling her that Lawrence was dead.

Along with that news came a another plea for information about Lawrence’s next of kin, Gordon said.

“He had two notebooks with (telephone) numbers in them. I don’t know who all I called, but I couldn’t get anybody” who said they were related to Lawrence, Gordon said. “I can’t find anybody. I’ve tried everybody I know to try. It’s so sad. He died all alone, and now, nobody knows how to get in touch with his family.”

Lawrence “was always good to me. He wasn’t somebody with a smart mouth, you know. He was a real easy going person. He always paid his rent and he never asked for money or anything like some renters do. He was just a real likable person. ... He was a good person as far as I knew him.”

Hayes continues to recuperate, “but I don’t know if he will ever be the same,” she said.

“I love all my tenants,” Gordon said. “And with Lee, it was better to have known him than to not know him.”


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