MONTCALM COUNTY, Mich. (WOOD) - A 20-year-old Sand Lake man has died from injuries he suffered after he was hit by a pickup truck Saturday night in Montcalm County.
The driver of the pickup truck did not stop after striking the pedestrian in the 19000 block of Stanton Road, northeast of Sand Lake.
The victim was airlifted to a Grand Rapids hospital for treatment, but relatives confirmed that he died Sunday morning.
Relatives identified the victim as Tyler Helton.
"He was laying on the bed and I got a chance to hug him and kiss him," said father Marty Helton. "Told him I loved him for the last time. And I'm going to miss him so much."
Marty Helton said Tyler was visiting friends in the area to mudbog just before the incident.
Michigan State Police said the driver of the suspected vehicle has been identified and his vehicle has been located.
They said the driver called dispatch Sunday morning after seeing the news about the crash.
Police say the driver, a 57-year-old Howard City man, is cooperating with authorities as the investigation continues.
He has not been arrested. MSP has not yet returned calls for comment on why the man was not arrested.
Marty Helton said he was told the suspect thought he hit a deer.
"I'm trying to be a good Christian person," said Marty. "I don't have any hate for the man. I just know that he needs to repent and pay for what he did wrong."
MSP has said that alcohol was a factor, but they did not clarify if they were referring to Helton or the driver of the pickup truck.
Helton graduated from Tri-County High School in 2010.
Family said that Helton was on the school's basketball and baseball teams and that he loved to play sports and spend time with his friends.
"He was a real good kid," said Marty.
He was remembered as energetic and good-natured by family members.
"Never a dull moment -- always made you smile," one relative told 24 Hour News 8. "I will always miss my cousin."
Marty Helton said his son had recently enlisted in the Marine Corps. He would have gone to basic training in California in two months.
"His mom and I, we had a hard time with it, but we knew that's what he wanted and thought this could be a good thing," Marty said.
Helton visited his parents for the last time on Saturday, Marty said.
"When he was getting ready to leave, he came up to me and gave me a big hug and said, ''Bye, Dad. Love ya.' And I said, ''Bye son, I love you.'"
Marty said that he had dreams for his son.
"The Lord had other plans for him. He's safe right now," said Marty. "And I love you, son. I'm going to miss you so much."
24 Hour News 8's Ryan Takeo contributed to this report.
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