MADISON, Wis. - Darrell Sunderlage, 60, was crossing Northport Drive Thursday night when he was struck by a car. The driver took off and other drivers found Sunderlage's body in the middle of the street.
Days later, Sunderlage died at the hospital.
"It is sad, especially because of where he was coming from and the fact that he was finally in a good place in life," said Brad Hinkfuss. "When this happened the irony of it is that he finally had stable housing, he was in a supportive community, and he had people who were working with him and cared about him."
Hinkfuss was one of those people.
As the executive director of Housing Initiatives, Inc., Hinkfuss helped provide Sunderlage with permanent supportive housing. The organization has dozens of properties around the city and houses about 230 people.
Hinkfuss said this was probably the first time in Sunderlage's adult life that he had stable and secure housing.
"What was true for Darrell, what's true for all the clients that we serve, is he was formerly homeless, chronically homeless for at least a year. In his case it may have been significantly longer than that and all of our clients come to us with severe and persistent mental illness," said Hinkfuss.
Sunderlage had stayed at Porchlight men's shelter briefly before finding Housing Initiatives, Inc. He had been living in his own apartment on Madison's north side for only a year and a half when he was hit and killed.
"He was someone who you may have seen in the median because he may have been panhandling. Or he may have been wandering along with his scruffy beard or the sidewalks walking to where ever he was walking. And the real tragedy here is that there isn't better care for folks like him who can lead really meaningful lives and are really great people," said Hinkfuss.
Police have not arrested a suspect yet, but a Madison police spokesperson said the traffic specialist investigating the case is making good progress and the community has been calling in helpful tips.
Hinkfuss hopes the driver turns themselves in.
"Darrell's life mattered just as much as anyone and everyone else, and that person needs to do the right thing," he said.
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