Family, friends remember victim of deadly Little River hit-and-run

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 8:27 PM EDT
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LITTLE RIVER, S.C. (WMBF) - Rudy Lopez’s loved ones said they never could have imagined someone would kill their 20-year-old in broad daylight, at a Little River Liberty gas station.

“I came to see where he had his accident,” said Lopez’s cousin Marlon Rocael.

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, Lopez was walking out of the gas station, when Horry County Police said 21-year-old Austin Coleman repeatedly hit and killed Lopez with a stolen SUV.

Coleman is accused of hitting his victim with the vehicle 3 times.

Police confirm Lopez died at the scene from blunt force trauma.

The gas station now honoring Lopez with a memorial filled with flowers, a cross, and stuffed animals near where he was killed.

Rocael said he never imagined this would happen and is still searching for answers in the case.

“Because we didn’t know what would happen to him,” said Rocael. “He was going to work, what can we do?”

Also searching for answers are Horry County police. They said Lopez and Coleman did not know each other leading up to the deadly hit-and-run.

After allegedly murdering Lopez, police said Coleman took the stolen SUV through a car wash before returning home.

A neighbor to Coleman, Rick Turkopp said the incident shook up their usually safe Little River neighborhood.

“It’s quiet. It’s quiet here,” said Turkopp as he described his home street.

Turkopp was walking his dogs when he saw police arrest Coleman and inspect under his truck where police confirmed they found blood.

“It was like hmm, what’s going on here? And, next thing I know, they walked a guy out,” said Turkopp.

Coleman is currently being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center with no bond.

This is a developing story.

We will bring you new information on this case as updates come into our newsroom.