Police still hope to solve deadly hit-skip 11 years later


On November 8, 2007, 16-year-old Veronica Gant had just arrived in Columbus for a Catholic Youth Conference. It was after midnight when the teen's group checked in to a hotel on Olentangy River Road.

Gant and several other teens decided to walk to a nearby fast food restaurant to get something to eat. Police say Gant was heading back to the hotel, walking northbound on Olentangy River Road, when she was struck from behind by a vehicle also heading northbound.

Columbus Police Officer David Cornute talked to eyewitnesses who said it all happened so fast.

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"A lot of the witnesses told me they saw a flash go in front of their eyes, and they didn't know what that was," said Cornute. "What they saw flash in front of them was Veronica being struck, and her flying past them."

The driver that struck Gant kept going, but eyewitnesses provided police and media with a description of the vehicle.

"The tone was set that everyone was looking for a pickup truck," said Cornute.

However, Cornute said a piece of evidence found near the deadly crash site caused him to believe investigators were barking up the wrong tree. Police recovered a side view mirror, only it didn't belong to a pickup truck.

"The evidence that I found indicated that I was looking for a Honda Civic," said Cornute.

A surveillance camera from a nearby restaurant captured a grainy image of the suspect's vehicle speeding away.

Investigators decided to shut down a stretch of Olentangy River Road and drive a similar-year Honda Civic past the same security camera. Investigators say the re-enactment video left no room for doubt.

"I was able to superimpose the car that we did the re-enactment with the actual video to show that I'm looking for a Honda Civic," said Cornute.

Investigators ultimately nailed down the make and model of the suspect's car, but eleven years later, the identity of the driver who ended Veronica Gant's life remains a mystery. Cornute said eleven years is a long time for the driver to harbor such a terrible secret.

"That kind of thing will eat at you. And you have parents who have a child that was taken away from them, they don't have any answers," said Cornute.

He's hoping someone is ready to clear their conscience. If you have information about the death of Veronica Gant, police are asking you to call Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS (8477) or visit www.stopcrime.org and e-mail your tip. You may also submit a tip by downloading the free "P3 Tips" mobile app available on the iOS and Android platforms.