Grandmother killed in hit-and-run accident while walking to church

Ayda Abdelsayed (Abdelsayed family)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Family and church members are asking for help after a grandmother was killed in a hit-and-run accident as she walked to church.

Fifty-five-year-old Ayda Abdelsayed was killed and the driver of the car did not stop  Saturday morning.

Loved ones said Abdelsayed often walked to St. Pishoy Coptic Orthodox Church on Hamilton Road.

“She was a very dedicated parishioner,” Father Theodore Ghaly said. “Every morning when we would have liturgy, she would be there.”

He continued, “Often times she came with her grandchildren, so thank God that day she decided to come without them because it could have been much worse.”

Metro police said Abdelsayed crossed Hamilton Church Road round 7:40 a.m. when a small black four door car struck her. The impact threw her on to the car’s hood and windshield.

According to video of the wreck caught on church surveillance cameras, the driver then ran over Abdelsayed and kept driving.

“I think there is probably going to be damage to the front end and the hood,” hit-and-run investigator Officer Don Davidson said. “The weather was beautiful and sunny on a clear bright day.”

Officer Davidson said the sunlight might have caused visibility problems for the driver Saturday morning.

He also said Abdelsayed was not crossing the street at the intersection, so it’s possible the driver did not see her before the collision, but the driver would have known they hit something.

“She went on to the hood and into the windshield,” Officer Davidson said. “The driver knew he hit something at the least, even if it didn’t dawn on him that it was a person.”

He continued, “If the driver would not have continued forward and run her over, she may have survived.”

Officer Davidson said in pedestrian versus automobile wrecks, drivers are not always cited or charged if they hit someone.

“In our investigation, we are going to look at all aspects including what the driver could see if the sun was in his eyes and if the pedestrian was crossing where they shouldn’t be crossing,” Davidson said. “Many times in a pedestrian crime like this, the driver is not charged with anything, so if you stay on the scene and talk to us about what happened we are going to investigate it.”

So far in 2017, drivers hit 123 pedestrians. Six pedestrians have died. At this same time in 2016, two pedestrians died after a collision with a car.

In 2016, drivers hit 467 pedestrians and 16 of them died.

Metro police stress to both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of using crosswalks, wearing bright reflective clothing and obeying traffic signals.

“You have to take it upon yourself to take all precautions you can for your safety,” Officer Davidson said. “Don’t assume that just because you have a walk signal that people are going to stop drivers sometimes disobey traffic signals.”

Church members at St. Pishoy Coptic Orthodox Church said pedestrian safety is a big concern because a large percentage of church members walk to services, like Abdelsayed.

“The initial reaction is sadness at such a tragedy but unfortunately some of the reaction is a little bit of lack of surprise,” Father Ghaly said. “This kind of thing happens on this road often. This area is unsafe drivers drive too fast.”

Father Ghaly said the church would like more sidewalks and the speed limit of 45 mph lowered on Hamilton Church Road near the church.

It’s a narrow two-lane road bordered by neighborhoods.

“Unfortunately, we have had to deal with this,” he said. “Not at this level, but we have had to deal with similar situations in the past.”

Metro police want anyone with information about the hit-and-run accident that killed Abdelsayed to call 615-862-8600.

You can also provide information anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME. (27463). Tips can also be submitted online.