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Cleveland woman injured in Christmas hit-skip dies, driver arrested

Posted at 6:33 AM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 10:38:38-05

CLEVELAND — A day traditionally spent surrounded by loved ones and filled with holiday cheer, instantly turned dark for the family of a Cleveland woman who was hit and killed Christmas night.

Cleveland police say the driver, 25-year-old Edwin Valentin, hit Melanie Phillips at the 3100 block around 11 p.m. Valentin is charged with Aggravated Vehicular Assault.

Phorfina Wade, Phillip’s sister, tells News 5 she remembers getting a phone call after it happened.

“I had my aunt that called and notified me. She was actually there,” Wade said. “Hearing the agony in her voice you know very, very painful.”

Wade says their aunt had just dropped Phillips off at home. She says Phillips was standing on the sidewalk while grabbing her belongings out of their aunt’s trunk when a driver hit her and drove off.

“The person jumped the curb and took her down and dragged her down the street.”

Phillips died at the hospital that night.

“Once the surgeon came in, he pretty much just stated that there was nothing that they could do,” Wade said. “She would not have survived it. They couldn’t operate on her because her brain damage was just too bad.”

Valentin was arrested three says after the incident.

“We don’t know what he was going through. We don’t know what was in his mind. We don’t know if he was inebriated,” Phillips’ brother, Richard Chaney said. “It’s terrible man. It hurts man like but who are we to hold a grudge or judge somebody.”

Phillips’ siblings and her three sons are now trying to cope without her.

“The worst is trying to be there for her kids, especially her oldest son because you know? Who wants to lose their mom at a young age? Nobody,” said her sister Nicoy Joplin-Jones.

Though the family is heartbroken, they say they are praying for the person responsible.

“You took a precious life that will just never be replaced,” Wade said. “Hopefully you know he will realize what he has done. That’s what we want.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been set. Phillips’ family is seeking donations to help with her celebration of life services. For more information, click here.