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Ohio State Highway Patrol turns to social media in hit-skip case of cross country runner

53-year-old Nicholas Ashill, is recovering at OSU Wexner Medical Center. Troopers believe he has a broken leg and possibly broken or fractured pelvis, but is listed in fair condition. (Courtesy: Nick Runs America/Instagram)

Ohio State Highway Patrol released pictures on Facebook in hopes people will help track down the driver and truck in a hit-skip case Wednesday morning.

Troopers believe a driver in a truck similar to what they posted hit a cross country runner on Route 40 near the Clark-Madison County line.

The runner from New Zealand, 53-year-old Nicholas Ashill, is recovering at OSU Wexner Medical Center. Troopers believe he has a broken leg and possibly broken or fractured pelvis, but is listed in fair condition.

Ashill was just over a month away from finishing his coast- to-coast run for charity when he was hit.

"In about 10 minutes, I'm going to be crossing in to another state," said Ashill as he ran into Ohio from Indiana on July 29.

Ashill has been documenting his charity run from Los Angeles to New York City on Facebook.

"Yes, it's official. I'm in Ohio," said Ashill.

One day after his Ohio arrival, Ashill had a meet-and-greet with an admirer.

"I always like to meet up with one crosser a year," said Jim McCord.

McCord, a fellow crosser, drove to Vandalia (north of Dayton) from Kentucky to swap stories with the man from New Zealand.

Some were good, some not so good.

"Have you had any close calls on the road? Yeah, I've had a few sadly. It's to do with people who are texting while driving and they realize they're just about to hit a runner and swerve away," said Ashill.

Three days later, a hit-skip on Route 40 near the Clark-Madison County line put McCord's newfound friend in the hospital.

"When a runner gets hit on a road, like US 40, with people going 50 to 60 miles an hour, it's usually pretty bad. So, I was thinking the worst," said McCord.

Ohio Highway Patrol turned to social media to find the driver and the truck. They're looking for a '90s model GMC or Chevy pickup with right side damage and a missing mirror.

"There is really no reason that a motorist should not have seen the runner on the side of the road," said Lt. Robert Sellers.

McCord did a coast-to-coast run 15 years ago. He says it's much more dangerous now for crossers with more distracted drivers.

"Whether they were drunk or high or texting or just driving too fast, whatever. I hope they just turn themselves in because the longer they wait, the worse it is on them," said McCord.

Ashill started his run across America in May to raise money and awareness for Pulmonary Fibrosis. Now people are pulling for his recovery.

"I met him for just an hour- and-a-half and he's a great guy and he's got a great family and I'm thrilled to death he's going to be okay," said McCord.

McCord hopes to make a trip to Columbus in a few days so he can visit with Ashill at OSU.


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