Three weeks after deadly hit-and-run, sister pleads for answers

Kent County

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Three weeks after a hit-and-run crash killed a Grand Rapids area native, family member and investigators are hoping someone’s conscience helps identify the driver.

Michael Emaus, 50, was killed just before midnight July 1 after he was struck Deputies search for driver in deadly hit-and-run crashon Cascade Road near 36th Street.

It’s dark stretch of road. There’s some speculation the driver may not have realized that he or she hit a person rather than a deer or other animal.

“We wondered if that could be a possibility,” the victim’s sister, Michelle Emaus, told News 8 in a Zoom call Friday. “But I have to believe, given the fact that Mike was struck and the medical examiner believes him to have been run over, that that would not be a possibility. “

Michael Emaus would have turned 51 on July 31. The East Kentwood graduate went on to become a commercial pilot, eventually settling in Waterford, northwest of Detroit.

“Up for absolutely anything and everything and absolutely touched everyone’s lives that he interacted with,” Michelle Emaus said of her brother.

He was visiting friends in a neighborhood not far from where the crash occurred. Security cameras showed him leaving a party store at Cascade and old 28th shortly before the crash. He was riding a onewheel, an electric vehicle similar to a skateboard.

Deputies believe he was on the roadway when he was struck, about a mile from the party store. A passerby found him lying in the road and watched him get struck by two other vehicles.

“So there’s potentially other people that had hit this person that we’d like to talk to as well,” Kent County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Ron Gates said.

With no parts or other debris that may help them find the vehicle, deputies have been checking home doorbell cameras and business surveillance video. So far, nothing has led to a potential suspect vehicle.

The incident is proving similar to past hit-and-run cases.

“I actually find that they’re more difficult to solve sometimes than a homicide because there’s typically no connection between the suspect and the victim,” Gates said. “Obviously, the most ideal situation would be the driver to come forward and admit that they did this. We’re willing to listen to the circumstances, whether they saw the person or didn’t see the person, whether they were drinking or not drinking. Obviously it will be up to the prosecutor to decide on any charges.”

But so far, nobody has reached out.

So for now, investigators are hoping a family member or neighbor notices damage to a nearby vehicle and calls it in; or that a passenger, friend or loved one with knowledge of what happened, or the driver, decides the guilt is too heavy to carry.

“Someone has to know something,” Michelle Emaus said. “And I would hope their conscience gets the better of them and they realize that Mike was a son, he was a brother, he was an uncle, he was a best friend to a number of people that are really struggling with this.”

If you have any information, call the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Detective Bureau during business hours at 616.632.6125 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.

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