Lufkin woman turns self in 6 days after hitting pedestrian

Mahala Ellis mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Mahala Ellis mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin woman turned herself in at the Angelina County Jail on a charge of hitting a mentally disabled woman with her car Friday night, while the victim was walking home on East Denman Avenue.

According to Det. J.B. Smith, the victim, Toni Michelle Thorndyke, 39, of Lufkin, had gone to Okay Food Store to buy a drink and was walking home when she was hit by a car on the shoulder of the road and knocked into a ditch.

"I couldn't see without my glasses and the blood was gushing out of my head, my face, it was scary," Thorndyke said.

Smith said friends found Thorndyke and took her to a Lufkin hospital, where she is listed in good condition and expected to be released today. Thorndyke's sister said she is mentally disabled.

"It scared me when I woke up, blood coming from down my head," Thorndyke said.

Smith said someone told Huntington Police they overheard Mahala Ellis, 18, tell someone about hitting someone on the road. An investigator was able to track Ellis down at her job, Express Care Oil Facility, and observed a Ford Escort with a broken front passenger-side headlight and hood damage.

The investigator interviewed Ellis, who confessed to hitting Thorndyke. She said she did not do it intentionally, but had looked down to get a CD, then looked up just before hitting her.

Ellis turned herself in Friday afternoon on a charge of failure to stop and render aid, according to jail records. She bonded out at $2,500.

Ellis declined to comment on the case, but her aunt, Elaine Armstrong, released a statement.

"It was dark and she did not realize that she had hit anything, much less a human being," Armstrong said. "She did stop once she got down the road a little ways and all she saw is her mirror dangling and there was no blood, hair, or anything and so she came home. Our feelings go out to the other family, and we are waiting on legal representation. She would like to see the person, but she is waiting on legal representation and she does feel very remorseful."

Smith said the maximum punishment for the charge is a 10-year prison statement. Smith said an assault charge could have possibly been issued, had Ellis stopped after hitting Thorndyke, but it may have been possible that she would not have faced any criminal charges.

"When she was contacted by the investigator, at first she admitted that she struck an object," Smith said. "Later she admitted that she knew she struck a person, but didn't stop and continued driving."

"I'd tell her why was she not paying attention going down that road and why would she swerve over to that ditch where I was at," Thorndyke said.

Thorndyke is expected to recover and plans to watch where she walks in the future.

"Around my apartment where my friends are at, that's as far as I'm going," Thorndyke said. "I'm not going out to the road ever again."

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