ST. PAUL, Minn. - You could say he’s an icon within a landmark.
But this week, 48-year-old Tom Corbett needs his community’s help to find the person police believe hit him then drove off.
“I don’t know how you can live with yourself. It’s beyond us that you could actually hit another human being with a car and just leave the scene,” said Tom’s sister, Cindy Corbett Nelson.
On Monday – shortly after his shift bagging groceries at Cooper’s Foods on West Seventh Street – Corbett left for his usual three-block walk home. But the man who has Down syndrome never made it to his destination. Instead, police say an Uber driver spotted him lying injured in a snowbank near the intersection of Michigan and Duke streets.
According to police, Corbett himself didn’t remember what happened. But police concluded – based on debris and the severity of Corbett’s injuries – he was a victim of a hit and run incident. He was found around 7:15 p.m.; investigators believe he was struck sometime between 6:30 and 7:15 p.m..
“He’s confused, and he’s scared. It’s tough to communicate with him right now, to figure out what he knows and what he understands,” Corbett Nelson said.
Gathered outside Regions Hospital where their brother continues to recover, Corbett’s siblings also have a message for the person who hit their brother, then drove off.
“Please come forward and help us understand what happened,” Corbett Nelson pleaded.
“To me it’s a cowardly thing to leave the scene of an accident. We definitely want him off the street,” said Corbett’s brother, Troy Corbett, adding, “Hopefully somebody saw or heard something and can help us out.”
‘EVERYBODY LOVES HIM’
Meantime, friends and members of Corbett’s “second family” are also awaiting his recovery and return.
“He’s a part of our family. This whole neighborhood. He’s a part of everyone’s family,” said Michelle Taylor, who’s worked with Corbett for many of his 15 years at Cooper’s Foods.
Taylor spent part of her day explaining to customers what had happened to Tom.
“How could somebody just leave? I don’t understand how morally if someone gets hurt, how could you leave them behind. I just don’t understand how someone could do something like that,” Taylor said.
But friends and family also predicted Corbett would recover and return to his beloved community. After all, said Ricky Hansen – whose family also took Corbett in more than 20 years ago – Tom considers the store, staff and customers members of his “second family.”
“It’s going to be really hard for him not to come in here. He misses the people already. He’s already asking about them and really wants to be back,” Hansen said.
Anyone with any information is urged to call police, at: 651-266-5727.