Victim of downtown hit-and-run urges those responsible to come forward

Suspected vehicle in hit and run (Source: CPD)
Suspected vehicle in hit and run (Source: CPD)
Suspected car involved in hit and run (Source: CPD)
Suspected car involved in hit and run (Source: CPD)
Ben Gochnauer and Danielle Wilcox at Roper St. Francis (Source: Roper St. Francis)
Ben Gochnauer and Danielle Wilcox at Roper St. Francis (Source: Roper St. Francis)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The woman involved in a hit-and-run exactly three months ago is sharing her story of survival bravery after suffering severe injuries that night.

Friday, Charleston Police re-released photos of the car believed to be involved in the hit-and-run at the intersection of Meeting Street and Woolfe Street on August 13.

Police said Danielle Wilcox, now 26, was walking in the crosswalk on Meeting Street when she was struck.

""The vehicle that hit me knocked me 10 feet in the air," Wilcox said Monday. "It pretty much almost took my life… I feel like I was hit and left in the street like an animal even though I'm a human being."

The car involved appears to be a newer-model four-door sedan with a sun or moon roof and tinted windows, police said. It would also have damage to its front passenger-side bumper and hood, along with damage to the windshield.

Monday Wilcox returned to the scene of the accident to share her story.

"To me it just means if I'm brave enough to come back here, I'm brave enough to do anything," Wilcox said.

The 26-year-old was rushed to MUSC that night, and spent a month in a sedated coma.

"I thought I was dreaming the whole time," Wilcox said. "I kept saying when am I going to wake up?"

Wilcox suffered numerous injuries including several fractures to her head, wrist and ribs. She also had a tracheotomy done since she was not breathing when first responders came to the scene.

In a 911 call made to dispatchers the night of the crime, a man's voice could be heard relaying medical updates to the caller.

Wilcox said that was her guardian angel… a man named Ben who she believes saved her life.

"He happened to be in his Uber and ran a block back to me and gave me CPR," she said.

Photos and an article from Roper St. Francis Hospital state Ben Gochnauer is a respiratory therapist at the hospital.

Wilcox said she was discharged from MUSC on September 27 and transferred to Roper to receive more treatment. That's when she officially met her guardian angel.

"He came to me, and told me who he was and what happened," she said. "So I was a bit emotional. He knew who I was. He thought I had died."

Right now Wilcox is still doing outpatient therapy three times a week for two hours.

She says the biggest challenge right now is walking with her walker.

"Other than that, everything is a challenge," Wilcox said. "I haven't forgotten how to do it. I just have to train my body how to do the motions again."

While she's focusing on recovery, she said she's also seeking justice.

"I'm where the accident happened... and I'm brave enough to be here," Wilcox said. "Just be brave enough to turn yourself in."

Anyone with information about the vehicle involved or its driver is asked to contact Sgt. Matt Wojslawowicz of the Charleston Police Department at (843) 965-4084 or Crime Stoppers at (843) 554-1111.

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