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SALT LAKE CITY -- Passengers on a UTA bus tried to save a man found lying in the road early Tuesday morning, but their efforts were in vain.
Police say the man died of injuries suffered during a hit-and-run that occurred just minutes before the bus arrived at its stop.
Officials are now hoping someone will come forward with information about who hit the man.
Police have identified the man as 46-year old David Whiteeagle, also known as David Willie. They believe he was homeless, which made notifying family members a difficult task.
A witness told police he saw the man crossing 2100 South at about 450 East, right in front of St. Ann's Catholic Church, around 6:10 Tuesday morning. He said Whiteeagle had dropped a bag in the road and was bending down to pick it up when he was struck by an SUV headed west.
The witness told police the SUV then continued on without stopping, leaving Whiteeagle lying in the road. Seconds later, a UTA bus driver spotted the man and pulled over to call 911.
"The UTA bus arrived just after the person had been struck and killed, and they did the right thing," said Sgt. Dennis McGowan with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "They stopped to see what was going on and to call police."
Several passengers also got off the bus and tried to help.
"They took off their own coats and put them underneath the person and over the person, tried to comfort [him]," said McGowan. "I don't know what the status was of the person at that time, alive or dead, but they tried to comfort that person."
The witness who saw the SUV hit Whiteeagle told police it was a light blue over silver Nissan Xterra or Subaru Forester with an empty luggage rack on top and a center-mounted spare tire on back. Police say it will likely have front-end damage.
Police are asking that anyone with information about the driver or vehicle come forward.
"There may be people who may have seen something, maybe didn't realize the significance at first, but now in hindsight they think it over, and they may know something that may be significant to police," McGowan said.
Police say Whiteeagle was not in a crosswalk, so if the driver had stopped, that person likely would not have been ticketed.
If they find the driver, police say there is a good possibility that he or she may be charged with a felony for fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.
Anyone with information is asked call 801-799-3000.