Homeless man treated after struck, dragged by pickup

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A homeless man was rushed to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia after being struck by a motorist in the parking lot of the Currituck Welcome Center, Thursday. Authorities said the man had been sleeping in a tractor-trailer parking lane in the center's parking lot.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 5, 2018

MOYOCK — A homeless man apparently sleeping in the Currituck Welcome Center parking lot was in fair condition at a Virginia hospital Thursday after he was struck and dragged by a pickup truck, authorities said.

Thomas Hughes, 54, was being treated for his injuries at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia, Trooper B.K. White of the N.C. Highway Patrol said. A hospital spokesman said Hughes was in fair condition Thursday evening.

White said the incident occurred about 5:20 a.m. Thursday when Tanna Tippit, 42, of Chesapeake, Virginia, pulled into the welcome center located on N.C. Highway 168 in Moyock. Tippit told White she entered the welcome center’s parking lot so she could use her cellphone.  

Tippit, who was driving a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 pickup, made an immediate right after entering the welcome center’s short driveway and headed toward a parking area for tractor-trailers on the parking lot’s north side, White said. Tippit’s plan was to loop back around to N.C. 168, he said.

Tippit, however, didn’t see Hughes, who was lying in the first tractor-trailer parking space, White said. Hughes got caught under Tippit’s pickup and was dragged about 35 feet before Tippit heard his cries for help, the trooper said. 

Tippit stopped her truck, got out, phoned an emergency operator and tried to assist Hughes at the scene until help arrived, White said.

A Currituck Fire-EMS ambulance from the Moyock fire station arrived at the welcome center less than five minutes after the report, Fire-EMS Chief Chip Melton said. He said he was advised the motorist was trying to hold the man still when the EMS crew arrived.

Melton said his information was the man suffered significant injuries to his head. However, the man was conscious and able to talk to the ambulance crew as they transported him to the hospital. The man was driven by ambulance because emergency helicopters in the region were not available, he said. 

White said he was able to speak Hughes at the hospital.

“He remembers what happened,” White said.

White said it's unknown why Hughes, whose last known address was San Diego, was in the Currituck Welcome Center parking lot Thursday morning.

"That's just where he picked to spend the night," White said. "He has been seen in the area before."

White said he thinks Hughes was seen around the Border Station convenience store and Southland restaurant, both of which are near the welcome center, the past few days.

He said there was no damage to Tippit’s pickup and she isn't facing any charges.

He said the incident was recorded by an on-site video camera at the welcome center.