The pedestrian killed in a hit-and-run crash in north Tulsa on Saturday evening was carrying his groceries home from a local church’s food bank, police said Tuesday.
Gary Peterson, 77, died after a dark-colored Chrysler 300 struck him about 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the 1000 block of North Yale Avenue.
He was crossing the street with groceries to get to the Cornerstone Village Retirement Community. Peterson lived there, and he was walking back from a church down the block. Community residents surmised he was pushing the groceries home in a wheelchair after volunteering at a local food pantry.
“As far as I know, he didn’t have a paying job here,” said Dee Harlan, a friend of Peterson. “Everything he did was volunteer.”
Harlan met Peterson several years ago through her work with the retirement community. Peterson was from New Hampshire and he retired in Oklahoma. He lived in Cornerstone Village about a decade.
“He was all over Tulsa,” Harlan said. “He would try to ride his bicycle from Collinsville when he lived there.”
JoAnn Thomas, a resident and Peterson’s friend, said Peterson would accompany her to the grocery store. He would push the cart for her when her legs felt weak.
“He always wanted to help people,” Thomas said. “He had a very giving nature.”
That was a sentiment echoed among several residents, who remarked about how he would share tea or assist them in setting up a television. Harlan and Thomas said that Peterson would help unload food bank trucks at the retirement community.
On Saturday night, witnesses told police that a car was driving recklessly before it hit Peterson. The car was traveling northbound, striking several curbs and was speeding, police said.
Thomas did not learn until later in the evening that it was Peterson who had been hit.
Prior to that, she suspected Peterson was the victim after she saw him leave earlier that day and later saw the commotion of a police investigation out front.
Police are searching for the suspect vehicle. Police said the vehicle sustained damage to the front end, possibly the side or both.
Anyone with information may contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 918-596-COPS (2677), online at bit.ly/TCStips or through the Tulsa Tips app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play or iTunes stores.