NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In Nashville, the city is on track to be the worst in years for people getting hit and killed by vehicles.

The state reported a nearly 20% increase in just the last year. This data comes as Metro police are looking for a driver who took off after hitting a man and leaving him in the middle of the road.

“He was just laying there in the road, and you could just see how bad it was just looking at him and I knew,” said Tamara Hackney. “I just knew that he wasn’t going to survive.”

It was a moment Hackney will never forget.

Tamara Hackney told News 2 that she was staying with her boyfriend in a nearby hotel, when her boyfriend Paul Chadwick, 37, had left with his brother to get cigarettes. Soon after, she heard banging at the door and was told Chadwick had just been hit by a car. Quickly, she rushed out to be with him.

“It happened so fast he turned around to say, ‘bro, you’re about to get hit,’ and he didn’t have time to pull him out the way or anything,” Hackney remembered. “He said when it hit him, that car threw him, they hit him so hard.”

Metro police were called to a pedestrian critically injured on Wednesday around 9:40 p.m. on Bell Road. Chadwick was walking across the street when an SUV hit him.

“I just was praying he was breathing, I was just praying he was okay, but when I got there I could see that he wasn’t,” said Hackney.

According to Metro police, the driver initially stopped before taking off and leaving the scene. Chadwick was still in the middle of the road.

“I don’t think it’s right that the person just drove off because clearly, you could see that he was not okay,” cried Hackney.

After spending four days in the hospital fighting for his life, Chadwick died from his injuries Sunday afternoon.

“The hardest part is him not being right here,” said Hackney. “He was the kindest person, the kindest man. He was an organ donor, so he did pass from this but he did save four lives”

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County

Chadwick is now part of the more than 130 pedestrians who have died across the state after being hit by a vehicle. Across Tennessee this year, Nashville ranks number one for traffic fatalities. That number is already up from last year.

Tennessee’s growth has contributed to the problem.

“You have fewer officers on the road, or you’re not able to increase your numbers fast enough to keep up with the growing population of our state,” said Lt. Bill Miller with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

One of the biggest driving factors is speed.

“Speeding is a significant factor in Tennessee, you talk about pandemic numbers and pre and post-COVID, drivers who were driving recklessly, and who were speeding prior to COVID becoming so prominent in our nation. Those drivers, once they found that there were fewer vehicles on the roadway, and they act as if the roadway was a personal racetrack their personal playground. So, those drivers would drive even faster,” explained Lt. Miller.

Now, those who know and love Chadwick are hoping justice will come soon.

“Please turn yourself in, because this is wrong and you took a good man away from his family,” cried Hackney.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on wkrn.com

Metro police say the driver who hit and killed Paul Chadwick was in a white SUV that now has damage to the front end. If you know anything call Metro police or Crime Stoppers at (615) 742-7463.