Family of tourist killed in hit-and-run urges driver to come forward

Victim's family urges hit-and-run driver to surrender

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The family members of a tourist killed in a gruesome hit-and-run spoke with FOX 8 on Tuesday about their loss.

Josh Woodruff, 28, was struck New Year's Day around 3 a.m. at Decatur and Dumaine streets. Investigators said the driver dragged Woodruff's body for miles from the French Quarter to the west bank.

Woodruff was a Harvard graduate who was visiting from Los Angeles. His family said he was a religious person who made everyone he encountered feel loved and valued.

"Josh was so unique because he was both the most fun person in the room, but also the person that was best at getting people to talk about the heart issues, to go deep and talk about what was really going on, about what God had for us in our lives," said Woodruff's sister, Heather Grizzle.

From Omaha, Neb., Mark and Caren Woodruff read the very last text exchange they had with their son.

"Before the night begins just wanted to say Happy New Year and that I am so ridiculously thankful for you. Very much pumped to see what 2016 has for us," Josh wrote. Caren wrote back, "Happy New Year, we are SO thankful for you and for the life you bring to us and to our family. Stay safe tonight." She put in parenthesis, "I had to say that. I am the Mom."

Police say the driver of a black, four-door sedan with tinted windows hit Woodruff and then turned the wrong way down Madison Street onto Chartres. The NOPD says they have looked at more than 50 videos and now have 11 in their possession that they are trying to enhance.

"Most of the cameras in the French Quarter have infrared capabilities, night time, and the light distorts it, so we haven't been able to basically analyze that license plate as of yet, so we just got basically side angles and back angles. With the lighting in the area, it kind of distorts what we are looking for at this point in time," said NOPD Commander Anthony Micheu.

As for Woodruff's family, they want whomever is responsible caught and taken off the streets.

"We don't want retribution. We just would like to protect the public from whoever this person was, because they clearly have no respect for human life and I think they need to be off the streets," said Mark Woodruff.

"They can't give us what we want, which is Josh back. That's just not going to happen. But, no family, no one else should have to go through this. Whoever was behind the wheel does not deserve to be behind the wheel," Caren Woodruff said.

The Woodruff family is asking the driver that hit their son or anyone else who may have been in the car to come forward. Police believe Woodruff was trying to catch an Uber ride around the time he was hit. Investigators are urging anyone with information or surveillance video to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

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