South Carolina

Crash victim’s mother: ‘There’s no place for this person to hide’

Heidi Hanson, mother of Grace Sulak, poses with a quilt on May 24, 2016, in their Bluffton home. The quilt was given to the family in remembrance of Hanson’s daughter, Grace. Grace Sulak, 14, died May 7 on eastbound I-26 in a hit-and-run wreck that injured driver Andrea Dewey and Dewey’s daughter, Emma Dewey, also 14 and Sulak’s best friend.
Heidi Hanson, mother of Grace Sulak, poses with a quilt on May 24, 2016, in their Bluffton home. The quilt was given to the family in remembrance of Hanson’s daughter, Grace. Grace Sulak, 14, died May 7 on eastbound I-26 in a hit-and-run wreck that injured driver Andrea Dewey and Dewey’s daughter, Emma Dewey, also 14 and Sulak’s best friend. jmitelman@islandpacket.com

Two and a half weeks after her 14-year-old daughter was killed in a hit-and-run crash that injured two others, Heidi Hanson is leaving no effort unmade in her search for the driver who fled the scene.

“I am pleading with everyone and anyone on the roads, interstates, back roads and highways to keep an eye out for a white Dodge 2500 crew cab with damage to the right front passenger side of the truck,” Hanson posted on a truck driver forum Saturday night.

Her daughter, Grace Sulak, died May 7 on eastbound I-26 after the vehicle she was in ran off the roadway and struck a tree, injuring driver Andrea Dewey and her daughter, Emma Dewey, Sulak’s best friend.

The other driver has not been identified but was driving a white Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck, according to S.C. Highway Patrol investigators.

People make mistakes. Circumstances sometimes are what they are, but until you are ready to come forward and be honest, it will always follow them.

Heidi Hanson, mother of Grace Sulak

“People make mistakes,” Hanson said Tuesday. “Circumstances sometimes are what they are, but until you are ready to come forward and be honest, it will always follow them. ... I am trying to touch every corner that I can touch to get this information out. There’s no place for this person to hide.”

In her weekly talks with the Highway Patrol, Hanson said she is convinced investigators have made her daughter’s case a priority.

“Basically, they say Grace deserves the justice, Andrea and Emma deserve it, we deserve it,” she said.

Investigators are following all of the leads they get, Hanson said. Some have led them to Florida, Georgia, Beaufort and Bluffton.

“They have gone to every convenience store and gas station to pull video footage,” Hanson said. “Of course, that all takes time.”

A spokesman for the Highway Patrol said Tuesday the search for the pickup truck is continuing.

Anyone with information on the truck can call the Highway Patrol at 843-953-6010 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC.

“In some form or fashion, they (the pickup driver) are never going to move forward with their lives,” Hanson said. “They will never have peace.”

Families heal together

In the days since her daughter’s death, Hanson and her partner Kristen Sulak have taken their other daughter, Faith Sulak, Grace’s twin, to therapy.

“I think Faith is going to do some more (therapy), because I think it is really important for her to be able to express what she’s feeling,” Hanson said. “We’ve never been through this as a family. I don’t know how to tell her to cope. I don’t know how she moves forward with this after her twin sister died.”

The emotional healing escalated when Hanson, Kristen Sulak and Faith Sulak were reunited with the Deweys after they returned to Bluffton May 18 following a hospital stay outside of Columbia.

“There were tears,” Hanson said. “I cried. She (Andrea Dewey) cried. It’s hard to hug them when they are in casts and back braces, but we did.”

The families were finally able to talk about the crash.

“There’s no blame with them for anything,” Hanson said. “I wanted to be so clear with Andrea. She called as soon as she got her phone and could only repeat to me how sorry she was.”

“We know she did absolutely everything in her power to stop that vehicle. I told her she can’t feel any sense of responsibility, but she’s a mother.”

Faith also visited with Emma. The two sat in Emma’s room and talked for hours, Hanson said.

“Emma and Grace were best friends,” Hanson said. “Faith is really the only person who knew the inner workings of Emma and Grace’s friendship. The two of them share something.”

Caitlin Turner: 843-706-8184, @Cait_E_Turner

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Scholarship fund

Grace Sulak’s family is setting up a scholarship fund in her honor for students with dreams of athletics and academia.

Those interested in donating to the scholarship fund can contact Heidi Hanson at scouttex@aol.com.

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