Family pleads for driver’s surrender in hit-run bike death

Family members of a bicyclist who died after being struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run crash in West Philadelphia over the weekend pleaded Tuesday for the driver to surrender to police.

Jamal Morris, 27, who is from New York and stayed in Philadelphia after graduating from Drexel University, was pronounced dead at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center at 10:10 a.m. Monday. He was hit about 3:45 a.m. Saturday while riding near 45th and Market Streets and sustained massive head trauma.

His family came from its home in Warwick, N.Y., on Saturday after learning of the accident.

At a news conference outside Penn Presbyterian, Channabel Latham-Morris said her only son “loved life. He loved church. He loved sports.”

“As a mom, I am pleading with the person who hit my son,” she said. “I forgive you. So you need to know that I forgive you. Please come forward.”

Morris, who graduated from Drexel in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, had been working in Philadelphia as a piping designer for Amec Foster Wheeler, an international engineering and project-management firm.

Morris’ father, Hector Charlton Morris, said his son “was a very simple man” who had fallen in love with Philadelphia during college.

“My son came to Philadelphia and I don’t know what you guys did to him, but he never wanted to leave,” he said.

Police Capt. John Wilczynski of the Accident Investigation District said Morris was riding a “bright red bike” when he was struck.

Police have no surveillance video, no physical evidence of the vehicle, and “no reliable eyewitnesses, so right now I have to appeal to the conscience of the person that hit him,” the captain said.

Police and family members said they did not know where Morris, who lived in West Philadelphia, was riding to or from that night.

Morris’ friends said he was an avid cyclist.

“That was his commute. Whether it was work, whether it was to our house on the weekend,” said Bill Mahon, 27, who was Morris’ freshman roommate at Drexel. “He always biked down. . . . It took an hour, 10 minutes, it was monsooning, him and his bike were hand-in-hand.”

Police asked anyone with information on the incident to contact the Accident Investigation District at 215-685-3180 or 911.

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