Francisco Mendez (Jacksonville Beach Police Dept.)
Sailor Justin Reif (Courtesy Reif family)
BOILING SPRINGS, SC (FOX Carolina) -
An Upstate family is grieving after their loved one, who's a member of the Armed Forces, was killed by an alleged drunk driver.
An active member of the Navy from Boiling Spring, 29-year-old Justin Reif was hit while crossing a road in Jacksonville, FL, over the weekend.
Francisco Mendez, 39, of St. Augustine, was charged with driving under the influence manslaughter and leaving the scene of a deadly accident.
Jacksonville Beach police said Reif was helping a woman cross the road when a driver hit and killed him. The woman told police she thought they had enough time to cross since the traffic light was red. The woman says she stopped, but Reif kept going.
The twist that has outraged the victim's wife, Lynn Reif, is that police say the suspect didn't stop but came back to the scene a short time later. They say he got out of his car and looked at Justin Reif lifeless on the ground. That's when they say he left the scene again.
"It's unspeakable, and I am still in shock," said Lynn Reif. "I just don't understand how he could do this because he came back and saw my husband lying there. He then left the scene again. I just don't understand how he could live with himself."
Mendez was arrested a short time later driving his red Honda, a description witnesses gave police. The victim's wife says she has one question for Mendez.
"Why? Why didn't you stop and find help?" Reif said. "That was somebody's father, son and husband. I just don't understand."
Justin Reif leaves behind a wife and two daughters, ages 11 and 13. He was stationed in Jacksonville, FL.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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