Someone knows the person who was driving the SUV that hit Lanzhen Pan.
She was crossing Hightower Trail at the intersection with Roswell Road on Sept. 11 when she was struck. Pan, 67, later died of her injuries. The driver of the SUV faces felony charges for fleeing the scene.
The case remains unsolved.
Sandy Springs Police say they’d like to talk to the passenger in that SUV, who they believe is a woman. Police think the passenger’s window was rolled down at the time of the incident.
The passenger wouldn’t face any charges, according to Sandy Springs Police Detective Shelly Weed and Officer Brandon Smith.
“They were just the passenger in the vehicle,” Weed said. “We’re afraid they aren’t coming forward for fear of criminal prosecution.”
“They did absolutely nothing wrong in the case,” Smith added. “They were just the passenger.”
Pan was a Chinese immigrant who came to the United States with her husband to help raise her grandchildren. Pan’s daughter, Mandy Walker, said her mother was walking home from the grocery store.
When the SUV struck Pan it stopped for a moment. The passenger screamed, according to eyewitness reports.
“It was something to the effect of, ‘Oh my god,’” Weed said, recounting details of the investigation.
The SUV sped west down Hightower Trail. Video from a nearby Iron Sky camera shows the vehicle pull into the northbound left-hand turn lane on Roswell Road as the lane starts. Weed thinks it’s a clue the driver was familiar with the area.
Clues are scarce, the officers said.
Witnesses didn’t get a license plate number. There was no physical evidence at the scene, no fragments of the vehicle police investigators can trace back to the owner. The SUV struck Pan at a low speed. Pan fell and her head hit the ground, resulting in the fatal injury.
Police officers sent Pan’s clothes and jewelry to a lab for testing, hoping there would be flecks of paint or other evidence that would connect the dots to a suspect. The lab didn’t find anything, the officers said.
The video cameras didn’t capture the suspect’s SUV in great detail because the accident happened at night. The cameras switched to night-vision recording. Weed said the officers aren’t quite sure of the make and model or the color of the SUV shown in the video.
Police believe the passenger remains the key to solving the case.
“We really need that passenger to come forward to do the right thing for the family,” Weed said.
There’s a $5,000 reward for information that results in the arrest and conviction of the driver.
Walker, Pan’s daughter, said she has given up hope that the she will ever have an answer.
“I think, at this point, it’s pretty much between that person and God,” Walker said. “For me, it is very disappointing, but I don’t know what else I could do or anybody could do to change the situation.”
Anyone who has information about this case should call Detective Weed at 770-551-6939