Police investigate report of student hit by van on campus

Tech police are currently investigating a report from a student that he was struck by a vehicle on campus Nov. 8.

Robert L. Ryder, 22, a senior mechanical engineering major from Knoxville, Tenn., told Tech police that the vehicle hit him at 1:29 p.m. as he left the Volpe Library to walk across University Drive toward Bruner Hall.

According to the report, Ryder tried to step back when he noticed the vehicle wasn’t going to stop, but the passenger-side mirror hit his left arm.

“I noticed [the driver] was going pretty fast,” Ryder said. “I was in the middle of the crosswalk and noticed that he wasn’t looking at me at all.”

Ryder said the driver didn’t stop his vehicle until he had passed Ryder.

According to Ryder, he and the driver exchanged angry dialogue about the right-of-way at crosswalks.

“He jumped out and immediately, with cellphone in hand, came over within inches of my face and said ‘What the hell is your problem?'” Ryder said.

Gay Shepherd, Tech chief of police, said that although Ryder assumed the driver was a faculty member because of his parking hangtag, the investigation has proven that the driver is not a faculty member.

Ryder said that the driver left without exchanging information, but three or four people witnessed the incident and later spoke to Tech police.

Ryder said he continued to his class after the alleged incident, but took notes to the Tech police station afterward where he explained the situation.

According to Ryder, he described the vehicle to the police as a white Chrysler minivan with a cracked windshield, a Tech parking tag and a Knox County plate.

Ryder said that the police seemed uninterested in many details of his story. When he asked the police to release the driver’s information for insurance purposes, Ryder said the police refused.


Ryder said he returned to the police station in response to a voicemail he received asking him to complete the police report Nov. 10.

During this time, Ryder said he notified an officer of several inconsistencies in the police report including the location and the make and model of the vehicle. Ryder said the officer never made the changes to the report.

Ryder’s story became public when on Nov. 8, Ryder posted a note on his Facebook profile entitled, “Hit and Run on Tech Campus,” which was addressed to President Bob Bell and described his version of the alleged incident.

Ryder said that on Nov. 11, he visited the emergency room and was examined by a physician who told him his shoulder’s rotator cuff was damaged. Ryder said he has been referred to an orthopedic surgeon to determine if surgery will be necessary.

According to Tech police, the investigation is ongoing.

Because the investigation is active, Tech police will not release information on the driver or discuss his version of the incident.