Tips sought in hit-and-run during NASCAR race

September 13, 2011 5:04:16 AM PDT
It's been more than two years since a hit-and-run driver killed a University of Illinois student home on break in Joliet.

The case has not been solved, but a NASCAR driver is making an effort to generate new tips.

Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Kevin Conway will be carrying an image of Melissa Lech and police contact information on his car's deck lid during this weekend's Nascar race in Joliet. It's part of Conway's race team's effort to help local police departments with unsolved cases.

Melissa Lech had everything going for her -- good grades at the University of Illinois, a member of a popular sorority and plans to go to law school after graduation. Her mom says Melissa was determined since birth.

"She was so full of everything, she was full of life, and she always had to be the best," said Maria Lech, mother.

For the Lech family it seems like yesterday when they got knock on the door at 3 a.m. from Joliet police telling them Melissa was dead.

It's been three years since the 20-year-old was killed by a hit-and-run driver while she was walking eastbound on McDonough Street. The case has been cold ever since with no witnesses and no leads.

"The case file sits on my desk every day and I look at it when I come into work. So it would be great to solve on it on behalf of the family," said Det. John Ross, Joliet Police Department.

Det. Ross is hoping help from NASCAR will give him and the Lech family the break they have been waiting for. At this Saturday's race at the Chicagoland Speedway, Conway will display a decal with Lech's name and Joliet police contact information on his race car.

"We're hoping to help the Joliet Police Department with leads to this case that has gone far too long for the Lech family," said Conway.

The Lech family says someone knows something. They hope the new publicity will trigger a witness' memory or ideally the hit and run driver's conscious.

"To kill someone and drive over a person,that person had to know. I don't how can somebody live with that," said Maria Lech,

"It's not going to bring us closure but maybe some peace to know what happened," said Michelle Lech, sister.

The Lech family and Det. Ross will be in the pit with Conway during Saturday's race. Thousands of people are expected to attend.

Joliet police, CrimeStoppers and the Lech family all have contributed toward a $25,000 reward in the case.

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