Milwaukee sees surge in hit-and-run crashes, more fatalities than ever: 'This has not happened before'

MILWAUKEE -- New numbers show hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in the City of Milwaukee. Serious injuries, damage to property and death as a result of these crashes are also at an all-time high.

Alderman Terry Witkowsk

The numbers will be discussed Thursday, April 26 -- and one alderman said the first step in solving the problem is informing the public there is one.

"One out of four crashes are hit-and-run," said Milwaukee Alderman Terry Witkowski.

Alderman Witkowski said Wednesday, April 25 new numbers show how bad the problem has become. Over the last five years, Milwaukee has seen the total number of hit-and-run crashes go from just over 3,000 in 2013 to nearly 5,000 in 2017.

In the first four months of 2018, there have already been more than 1,000 hit-and-run crashes. Numbers for this year are predicted to surpass those before.

"Fatalities in double-digit numbers. This has not happened before," said Witkowski.

Witkowski said death as a result of these crashes is also on the rise. When it comes to property damage, the numbers have jumped from just under 2,600 in 2013 to nearly 4,000 in 2017.

Residents enjoying the fresh air on Wednesday said this is a problem they are aware of.

"I wait until they've absolutely stopped or I make contact with the driver before I go on the intersection," said a Milwaukee woman who lives downtown and walks a lot.

Hit-and-run near 15th and Lincoln

Suspects in hit-and-run near 15th and Lincoln

Some drivers said young people need to be more educated on the consequences of leaving the scene.

"High school level, it seems, there are younger adults involved in these situations," said a Milwaukee man.

City leaders don't believe the solution to this problem lies with stricter laws. Wisconsin's hit-and-run penalty laws are far stricter than those in Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa.

28th and Rogers hit-and-run

Hit-and-run at 13th and Lincoln

"The penalties aren't weak. You can get a prison sentence and $10,000 fine for a more serious event," said Witkowski.

Alderman Witkowski will be presenting the numbers to the Milwaukee Common Council's Public Safety and Health Committee Thursday, hoping a conversation on the issue can bring us seconds closer to solving the rising problem.

The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. -- and city leaders will decide how to move forward in addressing this issue.