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West Valley City mother still seeking answers in son's death

Published August 5, 2012 11:51 pm

Accident • SHasta Hooper feels compelled to share son's story in hopes of solving hit-and-run.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City • Nearly a year after her son was struck and killed by a car, Shasta Hooper and her two daughters often stand on the corner here, armed with posters.

"Who killed my son?" Shasta Hooper's poster blares.

Terron Hooper died Sept. 4, 2011, while celebrating his 22nd birthday in West Wendover, Nev. In the early morning hours of the celebration that began the night before, Terron was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

His death remains unsolved.

West Wendover police Sgt. David Wiskerchen said the department remains committed to solving the case and is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.

"Obviously we're talking about an unsolved hit-and-run that resulted in a fatality, and we'd like to bring some closure to the family," Wiskerchen said Thursday.

"I came to terms that they may never solve it," Hooper told The Salt Lake Tribune recently.

But Hooper said she feels compelled to act as the voice for her child, who can no longer speak for himself.

"He was always my baby," she said. "I took care of him in life, so why wouldn't I take care of him in death?

"I've got to make it right," Hooper added. "My dignity was taken away with him. I feel like God gave me this mission."

So she's held yard sales, bake sales and car washes. She stands on the corner passing out fliers, holding posters, talking about her son, no matter how painful it can be, to anyone who has any interest. She's set up a makeshift cross outside the West Wendover Police Department — her son was killed just yards away on the town's main thoroughfare.

It's all in the hope that maybe, just maybe, it will trigger someone's memory or prompt someone to come forward with information that can give her family closure and information about Terron's final moments.

"Somebody has got to know something," she said.

An urn containing Terron's ashes sits in a corner of her living room. Its stand is filled with items of importance to her son, like his sunglasses and the cologne he used to wear.

A friend made her a quilt out of Terron's clothes.

And each week, without fail, she calls the West Wendover police detective to see if there's been any word or developments.

"I want them to do their job so I can grieve my son's death," she said.

A three-page certified letter sent to Hooper in April from West Wendover Police Chief Ron Supp outlined the department's own frustration.

"First, I would like to express to you again my condolences for the loss of your son," Supp's letter begins. "In my conversations with you, [your son] appears to have been a very considerate and caring young man."

The letter goes on to explain that there was very little evidence found at the scene: no skid marks, no pieces of a vehicle or "any normal physical evidence found at most vehicle/pedestrian accidents."

Supp detailed efforts at tracking down a suspect, all which resulted in dead ends.

But, in a possible glimmer of hope for Hooper, the chief acknowledged police are looking at someone in Utah whose vehicle allegedly sustained front-end damage. But that individual has retained an attorney, and there is insufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant to examine the vehicle, police wrote.

"The lack of physical evidence involved in this incident makes it very frustrating as those are normally the items that lead to a suspect," Supp wrote.

Hooper said she wishes the individual would cooperate, even if that person is ultimately cleared in her son's death.

So, as the police investigation continues more than 100 miles away, Shasta Hooper continues her efforts in Utah.

"I just want help," she said. "I want to give my son justice. He was my son. Not just a case number. He was my son, my best friend and my baby."

She hopes to raise enough money to double the reward already offered by West Wendover police.

As for the driver who killed her son and failed to stop, Hooper said she can't possibly wish any worse karma on them because they're living with the knowledge that they took her son's life.

She said she can't imagine the horror that person must see every time they close their eyes at night.

"That has to be the most horrifying world," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 775-664-3188 or 775-664-4393 or email tipacop@westwendovercity.com. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle