Atlantic City jitney drivers help police track down an alleged hit-and-run driver

A Lancaster County man was arrested in Atlantic City on Tuesday morning after an alleged hit-and-run which left an elderly woman injured and turned the resort’s jitney drivers into a crime-solving network.

Dennis Gitsas, a jitney driver, told NewsWorks that the 64-year-old woman — a regular jitney customer — had gotten off at her stop just before 8:45 a.m.

As she was crossing Pacific Avenue at the Tennessee Ave. intersection en route to church, she was struck by a black pickup truck with Pennsylvania license plates.

Gitsas said witnesses saw the driver pick up a prostitute and was speeding away through the intersection when he struck the woman, whose identity has not yet been released.

“He takes off toward the middle of town and, as the woman was hitting the ground, the driver of jitney No. 155 was on the radio telling someone to call 911 and putting out the description to the 27 jitneys that were working,” Gitsas explained. “The drivers were all on the radios, ‘Keep an eye out this way, that way’ for a black pickup truck, PA tags, toolbox in the back.”

Also helping was a jitney passenger who had written down the truck’s license-plate number.

“Within five, 10 minutes, everybody knew what we were looking for,” Gitsas told NewsWorks. “The 911 dispatcher asked how we were getting this information so quickly.”

Tracking pays off

Amid that chatter, the driver of jitney #181 saw a vehicle matching that description “hauling a–” north on Martin Luther King Boulevard. They followed its path to Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, in the marina district.

There, the driver allegedly ditched the pickup in an attention-drawing location near the valet area. Though he fled — the jitney team had no idea what happened to his passenger — there was video surveillance of him doing so, Gitsas said.

About an hour later, another jitney driver reported that someone got onto his vehicle drinking a beer; he showed quite a bit of curious concern about the pickup truck as it was being towed away from the Harrah’s valet area, Gitsas said.

A call went out to police that “this could well be the guy they were looking for,” Gitsas said. “Unless it was a stolen car, we knew they got him.”

While that tip proved uneventful, get him Atlantic City Police did.

Police reports

The department’s shift commander confirmed that the suspect had been arrested as of early Tuesday afternoon, and that the hit-and-run victim was expected to survive the incident.

The Press of Atlantic City is reporting that Henry Harrison III, 40, of Lancaster County, was arrested after taking a cab from Harrah’s to a motel in nearby Absecon.

“We located him across the street at the Arby’s restaurant,” police Capt. Frank Brennan told the newspaper of a suspect who was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant.

To the jitney drivers involved who helped out, news of the apprehension came as welcomed information, even if the hit-and-run remains under investigation.

“This is the best work I’ve ever seen to get a hit-and-run driver,” said Gitsas, who noted that drivers had the case of an 88-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a cab in December not far from Tuesday’s scene in mind during their pursuit.

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