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Detective: Driver involved in deadly hit-and-run 13 years ago knows exactly what they did

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Michael Russo stormed out of his girlfriend’s Warwick home 13 years ago after a night of partying ended in an argument.

No one knew it would be the last time he was seen alive.

Michael was hit and killed by a car on August 2, 2008 while crossing Toll Gate Road. The driver took off, leaving the 23-year-old lying unconscious in the middle of the street.

Warwick Police Detective Captain Ryan Sornberger said no one saw who hit Michael, and surveillance video from nearby businesses yielded no clues.

The lack of closure is an open wound for the Russo family.

“I can’t even go down that road anymore because it’s hard to go by where the accident happened,” Michael’s mother Lynda Artesani said.

Artesani and Michael’s father, Michael Russo, remember the phone call they received that night.

“I kind of knew,” Artesani recalled. “I don’t know if it’s a mother’s intuition or not, but I knew he was gone.”

“I stayed with him in the room there for a couple of hours,” Russo added. “Just like that… Gone. It’s just devastating. Everything gets sucked out of you. He was my baby.”

Even though its been more than a decade, Michael’s sister Tammy Russo Dempsey refuses to give up searching for her brother’s killer.

“We did everything together,” she said of her younger sibling. “He was my best friend.”

Sornberger said they have no reason to believe Michael was intentionally hit, but he believes that whoever struck Michael knows exactly what they did.

“I find it hard to believe, since all the time that has gone by, that the person driving that vehicle, whoever it may be, hasn’t told anybody or confided in somebody or leaked it out somewhere,” Sornberger said. “If you take that secret with you, it’s quite the secret to keep this long.”

Now Michael’s family is urging the person who killed him to come forward.

“I just want somebody that maybe was there to say something, come forward. Just let us know what happened,” Artesani said. “Come forward to ease your conscience. Come forward and just let us have peace of mind.”

Sornberger said the car that hit Michael would have likely had significant front-end damage on the passenger’s side.

Anyone who can provide any information regarding who hit Michael is urged to contact the Warwick Police Department at (401) 468-4200.

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