Police seek information a year after fatal Interstate 99 hit-and-run

lfalce@centredaily.comFebruary 11, 2014 

A year ago Wednesday, Sherry Houtz was walking on Interstate 99. Between 3:45 and 4:03 a.m., she encountered a vehicle. It hit her and drove away. The 32-year-old woman died at mile marker 72.6.

On Tuesday, state police at Rockview issued a reminder that the case remains “active and open.”

For Betsy Houtz, it is a wound that will never close.

“I’ve lost my parents, and I’ve lost sisters, but it’s nothing like losing a child. Even though she was an adult, she’ll always be my little girl,” said the victim’s mother, who lives in Bellefonte.

During the past year, life has changed dramatically for the family. Sherry Houtz’s son was 6 when she died.

“My grandson is now starting to understand a little more,” said Betsy Houtz. “He talks about his mom and cries and cries and cries.”

Her granddaughter was taken to South Carolina by her father, starting a new life and not really having contact with her grandparents.

The rest of the family suffers, too.

“My husband deals with it his way. My son can’t talk about it. He gets mad,” said Betsy Houtz. “For me, I am a real basket case. I think part of me died the day my daughter died.”

The hardest part is not knowing what happened, she said.

Police came to talk to her recently about those last hours, but some information just left more questions. How did her daughter get onto I-99, and why? How did the accident happen?

Police know that the Sherry Houtz was at the Sheetz on Benner Pike outside Bellefonte earlier that night, but no one knows what exactly took her nine miles away in the early hours in the middle of February.

“The only one person who knows the truth won’t tell,” said Betsy. “I just want someone to wake me up and say it’s a bad dream, or for the police to call and say they have found the person who did it. Then my daughter could rest.”

Centre County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest. The vehicle in question left the scene traveling south on I-99. It is thought to have had damage to the passenger side, including the wheel well and windshield.

Anyone with information is asked to call state police at Rockview at 814-355-7545 or email tips@centrecountycrimestoppers.org.

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