Cops seek leads after girl hit by car

Police want your help in identifying the driver of a SUV that fled the scene after slamming into a 12-year-old Claremont girl on Sunday night.

Cassie Cozzen, 12, continues to receive treatment and is in intensive care at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, more than 48 hours after she was hit while walking alongside a rural road.

Cozzen and one other friend were walking from Bunker Hill High School on Oxford School Road about 7 p.m. Sunday when the 12-year-old was struck from behind by a champagne-colored SUV truck.

Cozzen’s friend called 9-1-1.

“My friend Cassie just got hit by a car,” the friend told a 9-1-1 dispatcher with Catawba County Communications.

“Did the person who hit her stop?” the responder asked Cozzen’s friend.

“No, he kept going,” she said. “Oh my God. I am so mad.”

N.C. Highway Patrol troopers and police say Cozzen was struck in the back of the head and on the left side of her body.

At last report, she still has swelling around her brain and has a partial fracture in her left elbow.

“She still is holding strong,” said Claremont Police Capt. Gary Bost, adding that doctors are waiting to see if Cozzen’s condition improves or worsens before conducting surgery.

Cozzen is the daughter of Claremont Police Officer Duane Cozzen, a longtime sergeant and investigator with CPD.

“We want everybody to pray for her, and I hope she gets better,” Claremont Police Chief Gerald Tolbert told the Claremont City Council at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.

After the collision Sunday, a reconstruction team responded to the scene to investigate debris left from the fleeing vehicle. The Highway Patrol does not have any suspects at this point, said N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. B.E. Hipp.

Police say the vehicle was described as a gold or champagne-colored SUV that may have damages to the passenger-side, rear-view mirror, headlight or windshield.

Anyone with information about the accident is urged to contact the N.C. Highway Patrol at 828-466-5500.