Neighborhood grieves for 'Mayor of Hugenot' - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Neighborhood grieves for 'Mayor of Hugenot'

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Twenty-year-old Curteria Leuellyn is facing several charges including vehicular homicide after a fatal Saturday night hit and run accident at Deadrick and Hugenot in Orange Mound.

Leuellyn, who is in jail on a $30,000 bond, is accused of striking 59-year-old Curtis Echols with her vehicle. He died just a few feet from the front door of his home.

Most of us will never know the kind of effect this may have on our family, friends or neighbors, but as for Echols, who was affectionately known to those in this community as "Woody," this simple gesture of remembrance speaks volumes to his character.

MORE: Memphis police arrest woman in fatal hit & run

For many who live near Hugenot and Deadrick grief can be overwhelming, when a tragedy is so senseless.

"Ya'll took a life from us," said Barry Bowen, neighbor. "Ya'll took not just Curtis; he was a father to a lot of us that ain't got fathers on Hugenot. I'm just, you know, shocked. Not just me, my mom, everybody we hurting over here."

Echols, affectionately known as "Woody" or "Mayor of Hugenot," was hit and killed while walking home the evening of March 29.   

"For them to leave him laying like they did, I mean you see people do animals like that, but not human beings," said Shalanda Echols, niece.

Police say Leuellyn, who was driving on a suspended license and didn't have insurance, was driving someone else's car east on Deadrick when she jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and slammed into Echols.

Echols was dragged several feet across the intersection and landed at the base of tree, just five houses from his own front door.

Leuellyn drove off.

"You took someone's life, you shouldn't have left like that," said Hershey Young, neighbor. "You should have stayed. He was just a sweet person, so friendly. If you knew him you would really miss him, just miss him."

The actual owner of the car told Memphis Police loaned it to Leuellyn and only noticed the damage after it was returned.

A poster board filled with signatures, memories and condolences now hangs at the base of the tree where "Woody" took his last breath. It's surrounded by teddy bears and mementos as a reminder of a man who survived prostate, throat and tongue cancer.

"For him to survive, you know, live through those different many types of cancer and for him to be taken out this way, it's kind of hard," Echols' niece said.

Neighbors said even at age 59, "Woody" never knew a stranger, and always had a kind word if he knew you or if he didn't. So as neighbors continue to try to understand what happened, "Woody," based on the sheer size of this memorial, touched just about everybody.

"A father to everyone on this street," Bowen  said. "If he were living, he'll be out here with us."

Echols' family say they are in the process of setting up his funeral arrangements.

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