#7. 'Chilly Willy' struck by car, killed in Elizabeth neighborhood

#7. 'Chilly Willy' struck by car, killed in Elizabeth neighborhood

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by WCNC.com Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 3:00 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police confirmed the man struck and killed Thursday night in front of Jackalope Jack’s bar on East Seventh Street was 58-year-old William Larry Major, better known as "Chilly Willy."

Police say the driver, Lillian Young, stopped and called 911 after Major was hit. She has not been charged with a crime but the investigation is ongoing.

Several witnesses say Chilly Willy had been walking up and down the side walk in front of Jackalope Jack's Thursday afternoon and in to the evening.  They say he appeared to be intoxicated.

There was a dent in the hood of Young's four-door sedan and the passenger side of her windshield was shattered due to the wreck.

(Click here to see photos from the crash scene)

After hearing that the victim was “Chilly Willy,” an often-seen homeless man around town, several bystanders stopped to ask police how he was doing. Police later said that Major had died.

"He always comes up and says hey to me," said Elizabeth resident Andrew Epperson.

Epperson hung a sign reading 'Charlotte loves Chilly' on a nearby tree.  Several people were signing it Friday morning.

"The streets were his life.  He made a life out of it," added Ken Foust, another resident.
 

(Charlotte community remembers 'Chilly Willy' on social media)

Dangerous street?

On October 29, 2011 Autumn Lynn Soyka, 31, was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver in front of Jackalope Jack’s, one of several bars and restaurants in the area.  Stephen John Watts, 60, was charged in the crash.

In August 2010, another driver was charged with DWI after hitting and injuring three pedestrians on the same street, also near Jackalope Jack’s.

Some businesses and residents are calling for a crosswalk. 

"It's not safe.  I don't see a crosswalk anywhere from here, where all these bar are," said Foust.  "So people are enjoying the bars over here and then they cross the street to where they park."

There is a crosswalk about a block up from Jackalope Jack's, and some residents say adding another wouldn't help.

"I would say it's pretty safe to cross the road at night here," said Epperson.

Either way, crossing East 7th Street likely won't be the same without 'Chilly Willy.'

"He never asked for money, he tried to give you money if you picked him up or just talked to him.  He always had something nice to say to you," recalled Epperson.

Within the last six months, CDOT installed pedestrian signals and marked crosswalks to improve pedestrian crossing where E. 7th Street, Pecan Avenue and Caswell Road meet.

CDOT plans to investigate the crash as well as look into crash data for that area.

The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report.

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