A hit-and-run leaves a Lake Highlands family hurting and wondering

Hit-and-run victim Andrew Green’s grandmother, Beverly Green, stands with Andrew Green Sr.; Shurinda Green, the victim’s sister; and Tyrlonda Banks, the victim’s mother. Photo by Can Turkyilmaz

Blog coverage of Andrew Green’s death

Shurinda Green was asleep when she received the phone call.

“Your brother has been hit by a car,“ said her college-age cousin Jordon Green.

“Stop playing,” responded the teenager, still half asleep.

But Jordon was serious: “Go get your parents.”

Within minutes, Shurinda’s dad, Andrew Green Sr., was sprinting up Whitehurst toward Skillman. It was a two-mile run from the family’s apartment to the accident scene.

By the time he arrived, a blue tarp covered his son’s slim body, and the person who had run him down with a dark sport utility vehicle had disappeared into the night.

Today, the family is willing to talk about what happened, hoping that publicity will lead police to the driver.

Mom Tyrlonda Banks has a hard time containing her tears. Sister Shurinda is stiff and still, looking uncomfortable like a visitor in an unfamiliar world. Dad Andrew Sr.’s tall frame is bent at the waist, and he periodically clutches his gut as if the discussion induces physical pain.

Prior to the accident, Andrew Jr. had been grounded a couple weekends as punishment for some forgettable misbehavior, but, on the contigent that he do extra chores the next few weeks, his parents let him attend the Lake Highlands High School football game Friday, Oct. 22, followed by a Young Life event, after which he was told he could spend the night with a friend, Nathan Hardeman, at the Soho apartments near school.

Andrew's Facebook profile photo

During the night, the boys left the Soho on foot to meet Jordon Green. Sometime around 2 a.m. near the construction-heavy intersection of Skillman and Church, Andrew Jr. stepped into the road where a car — maybe a Suburban, maybe an SUV, maybe navy or black with dark tinted windows — hit him, dragged his body several hundred feet and then sped away.

Nathan and Jordon witnessed the impact. Jordon can only vaguely describe the car but he remembers a couple eerie details.

“Before it hit Andrew, the car sped up. I heard it accelerate, saw it,” he says. “There were two people in the car. The passenger side window was down, and an arm hung out,” Jordon says. Even when they hit Andrew, he adds, that arm didn’t flinch.

Jordon tried to administer CPR, but says he didn’t really know what to do. And there was so much blood. A nurse driving home from work stopped. She told the boys she could feel a pulse. But when Dallas Fire Rescue arrived moments later, there was no sign of life. At 2:10 a.m., the medical examiner on the scene declared Andrew dead.

Jordan and Hardeman spent hours in separate police crusiers, recounting the events. Andrew’s body lay covered in the street for hours.

“I wasn’t even allowed to touch him,” his mother recalls. “We can’t figure out why he was in the street.”

It’s one of several things that may never be understood about that night. As of mid-February, police still have no suspects, says Lt. Scott Bratcher with the Dallas Police Department traffic division.

Multiple tips have been called in — there were rumors the car was from the neighborhood, or that the driver targeted Andrew — but police say they followed every lead to no avail.

“Every tip or clue that has been called in has been followed up on,” Bratcher says. “We just have not received anything that has panned out.”

He believes alcohol could have played a role on the driver’s end.

“Had this person been sober and stopped, it’s likely that they would not have faced charges. You’ve got a kid here who walked into the street in the middle of the night from behind a construction site. But it’s 2 a.m.: At that time of night, a lot of times you see alcohol or drugs involved.”

Bratcher says police have a decent rate of solving hit and run cases, clearing about 25 percent overall and even more cases that involve injury or fatality, but this case is tricky.

“It was dark, not many witnesses, and the ones we have couldn’t see tags or plates.”

Still, he says, there’s hope. He has seen cases in which the word gets out, and someone who knows something — in one case, it was a worker at a vehicle body shop — says something that leads detectives to a suspect. That could happen in this case, he says.

Andrew’s parents say they are no strangers to tragedy. Several years ago, Andrew Sr.’s father was killed in a hit and run accident; the driver never was caught, he tells us.

“I feel like I am living that nightmare all over again,” Andrew Sr. says. Andrew’s grandmother, Beverly Green, lost a husband and now a grandson.

As a young child, Tyrlonda says she was molested, lived in a foster home for several years and was abused again when she returned to live with family members. “At age 12, I was homeless and lived under a bridge for some time,” she says.

“I always vowed to give my children, my family, what I never had. I was always hard on Andrew. We fuss at them because we always think they can do more.

“I was trying to prepare him for the world. Telling him to be a man. Now I wish I had just sat him down and hugged him and told him how proud I was of him.”

Andrew’s sister, Shurinda, a junior at Lake Highlands High School, remembers walking to school with her brother the day he died.

“Andrew was laughing and joking and dancing and making me laugh. He was a good brother. I didn’t get a chance to tell him I loved him,” she says. “Now, at school, when I am at the Freshman Center, I sometimes look for him. It’s like a bad dream.”

More than 100 people gathered for a candlelight service the night of Andrew Green’s death.

If the family has found any solace, it’s in the response of the Lake Highlands community, Tyrlonda says.

“I am 33 years old, and I haven’t even met the amount of people that showed up to Andrew’s services — so many of them — and they all had such wonderful things to say about him,” she says.

“So many loved him. One of his friends told me that Andrew one day had actually given him, not the shirt off his back, but the socks off his feet. I just had to smile.”

Indeed, the Lake Highlands community rallied behind the Green family. The night of the accident, at least 100 mourners — including students, football coaches, teachers and Young Life leaders — gathered at Lake Highlands North Park for a candlelight vigil. His junior high football coach that evening remembered him as a team asset.

“He always tried so hard. He wasn’t the biggest or strongest, but he always picked himself up when he got knocked down. He always had a smile and encouraged others,” one of the coaches told the crowd. “He had an awesome heart.”

Neighborhood parent Krista Curnutt organized fundraising to help pay for funeral expenses. She says she was overwhelmed by the amount of support the neighborhood offered the family. Not only did neighborhood donors cover the funeral expenses, Curnutt says, they also provided meals to the family, helped at the reception, drove students to the services and are still supporting them months later.

Tyrlonda and Andrew Sr. can smile a little these days. Tyrlonda recalls taking out a loan to give Andrew money for a homecoming date. She fussed at him, she says, when he spent the bulk of the money on his own outfit.

“He spent $35 on a hat,” she says. “Can you believe it?”

The mother and father laugh together about his relationship with his sister.

“Once when the kids were 6 and 7, Shurinda was swinging her little purse around, and she accidentally slung it into the tree,” Tyrlonda recalls.

“She started crying. Andrew tried everything to get it down — throwing rocks at it. Finally he climbed up in the tree and got it. She was so happy, she hugged him. That is just the best feeling.”

Sometimes, Andrew Sr. has to force Tyrlonda away from the computer, where she likes to sit and watch YouTube videos of Andrew Jr. dancing.

“Ain’t no getting around the stress of it, but sometimes I have to pull her away,” Andrew Sr. says.

Until the driver who ran over Andrew is found, some members of the Lake Highlands community will remain uneasy, Curnutt says.

“Students who knew Andrew still seem very confused about how someone could commit this crime and why no one has been caught and charged with his murder.”

The Greens say they won’t rest until Andrew’s killer is found.

“I can’t give up,” Tyrlonda says. “They took his life and left him there to die. I need them to know what they took away from us.”