Monday marks one year since a fatal hit and run on Hamilton Road, and London, Ont., police say the investigation is still ongoing.
Jibin Benoy had just finished a late-night shift at a downtown fried chicken restaurant, Kluck It, when he and a co-worker began biking home in the early morning hours of Sept. 18, 2022.
But at 4:40 a.m., a two-door blue sedan was travelling eastbound on Hamilton Road near Little Grey Street when it jumped the curb, striking Benoy.
He was transported to hospital with serious injuries, where he later died.
The suspect vehicle fled the scene before police arrived, but witnesses believe there were multiple people in the car at the time of the collision.
To mark the anniversary of the fatal collision, police are re-releasing video surveillance footage in hopes of identifying the suspect vehicle and driver.
“The hope is that anybody in the area or anybody that may have any type of information that could assist with the investigation would come forward so that police can follow up and hopefully help us identify that vehicle and the driver,” Const. Matthew Dawson said.
The vehicle is described as a two-door blue sedan, with a loud muffler and damage to the passenger side windshield and bumper. Investigators also believe there were three or four people in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
“It’s always our responsibility, our duty and our want to protect the public and ensure that everybody feels safe, whether they’re driving a car, riding a bicycle or walking down the street,” Dawson said. “This is another opportunity for us to reignite the public’s interest and really get people on board to provide any kind of information that may assist us with locating that driver in that vehicle.”
Following the collision, Benoy was remembered by friends and colleagues as “a friendly soul” who always put smiles on faces.
“It’s more we lost a friend and a brother than we did a co-worker,” Ibraheem Halbouni, Kluck It’s owner, told Global News following the collision.
He says Benoy biked everywhere, including to and from work and to the campus at Fanshawe College, where he was studying engineering. His last words to his co-workers: “drive home safe,” he said.
Originally from Kerala, India, the 29-year-old budding engineer had relocated to the Forest City to study at the college and had plans of making a life in Canada with his wife, who was still back home.
A GoFundMe, launched by Halbouni to raise funds for Benoy’s family, had raised more than $14,000 less than 24 hours after the collision.
A separate fundraising campaign, launched by the London Ontario Malayalee Association, had raised over $45,000.
The death also sparked outrage and concern from London’s cycling community, with advocates rallying in honour of Benoy days later to call for safer cycling infrastructure across the city.
“We prioritize traffic flow above all else,” Andrew Hunniford, general manager of the London Bicycle Cafe, told Global News. “These aren’t accidents. These are the results of that prioritization.”
He highlighted the ongoing need for improved cycling infrastructure in the city that’s designed for all ages and abilities, according to local advocates.
Halbouni also told Global News that he would like to see more done about cycling safety, including bike lanes, and hopes Benoy’s death “brings enough awareness to the right people.”
In the months following the collision, community members and organizers also gathered earlier this year to discuss ways of making Hamilton Road safer for pedestrians and cyclists along the busy roadway.
Hosted by the Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre (CRC), “Traffic and Safety on Hamilton Road” was the first event that brought various stakeholders together to help brainstorm both short- and long-term solutions for residents who use the road daily.
Police continue to urge the public to come forward if they have information. They’re looking to speak with anyone who was on Hamilton Road on Sept. 18, 2022 between 4:30 a.m. and 4:45 a.m., as well as anyone who may have footage of the incident.
Anyone with relevant information is asked to contact them at (519) 661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
– with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick, Andrew Graham and Marshall Healey.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.