Philadelphia police released video Thursday of an alleged carjacker who they say critically injured a 21-year-old woman in a hit-and-run collision on April 17 in North Philadelphia.
The victim was identified by her family as Emily Ocelus, a Temple University student from Worcester Township, Montgomery County.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Ocelus’ aunt Jennifer Kidwell said Thursday. The family has been unable to visit Ocelus at Temple University Hospital because of the coronavirus pandemic and has had to communicate with her via FaceTime, Kidwell said. “She’s scared, she’s traumatized, she’s in extreme pain.”
Police said the driver is believed to have been at a Target store earlier that day, based on a receipt found in the SUV he was first driving and video obtained from the store. The store video showed a man fitting the description of the carjacker entering with a woman, then both leaving with carts full of merchandise.
About 10 that night, police said, the man crashed the SUV into a car on 17th Street near Diamond. He then got out of his vehicle, as seen in the video released by police.
Police said the man then jumped into the back seat of a car driven by a 23-year-old woman, who had observed the accident in her rear-view mirror while on 17th. He ordered her to drive, but she refused, and he pushed her out of her car and drove away, police said.
While driving that vehicle, police said, he struck a pedestrian — Ocelus — several blocks to the south, on the 1500 block of Willington Street.
Police — who did not identify the pedestrian — said she suffered severe trauma to her legs, a broken pelvis, and a large cut to one leg, and was taken to the hospital, where she was in critical condition.
After hitting the pedestrian, the man drove away, but crashed the car a short while later in an abandoned lot on Smedley Street, then ran off, police said.
Kidwell, 47, of Pottstown, said her niece had her sixth surgery Thursday and should make a full recovery, but it’s not known how long she will have to stay in the hospital.
Ocelus, who graduated from Methacton High School, was living in an off-campus apartment near Temple, where she is a part-time business major, her aunt said. The family set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical and rehab expenses.