Nearly three years after their son was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, Larry and Barb Packer are still left wondering who was driving that vehicle. In the early morning hours of July 31, 2010, Jamie Packer was struck by a vehicle on Highway 25 south of Nelson, Wisconsin. He was lying down in the road, according to witnesses in a first vehicle. That first car swerved and missed Jamie, but the vehicle driving behind them hit Jamie and kept on driving.
Amanda Packer was supposed to pick up her brother Jamie that night. Things were going well at work, and Jamie had gone out to Nelson to celebrate. He told his sister where he was going and when to pick him up. Amanda came to get him but Jamie was not there. She looked at the other bars where he said he would be. He was nowhere to be found.
Amanda started driving Highway 25 back towards their home in Kellogg, thinking perhaps Jamie got a ride with someone else.
Not far outside Nelson, Amanda saw Jamie, face down in the road. She arrived just minutes after he had been hit.
Jamie was bleeding and had no pulse. Amanda called 9-1-1 and performed CPR for nearly twenty minutes before the ambulance came, but neither the paramedics nor Amanda could save Jamie's life.
Jamie and his sisters Amanda and Erin were very close, Barb said. Amanda "deals with missing that phone call." Barb added, "Amanda feels like she failed—that she failed Jamie and Erin."
Jamie was a fun-loving guy, Barb said. He loved music and earned top marks at state choir contests as a high school student. He used to come downstairs in the morning and do a "Chippendale dance"—with his clothes on—to make his nephews laugh. "He was the one that always had the laughter; he loved to dance," Barb remembered.
You realize who people were and what they brought to your lives once they are gone, she said.
When asked how she felt after his death, Barb explained, "You feel guilty for having fun because you know what has happened, and with no resolution to it, it's always out there."
"When you start to have a good time, you're not sure if you're deserving of it," she continued. "If someone died of cancer, you can put them to rest because they're sick." But when you do not know all the answers, you keep wondering, she said.
Even years later, Barb and her husband, Larry, are determined to find out who the driver was. One month after his son's death, Larry posted on Jamie's Facebook page "Jamie, I will find out who did this to you. Love you and miss you, Pops." Larry and Barb have used the page to collect leads on who the driver of the car that killed their son might be.
Barb said her feelings have changed over the years. "We can go hours now where we're not distraught, with the posting on Facebook and different people calling," she said.
However, Barb said someone knows who the driver was and working to find out who it was still drives her and Larry.
"You wonder at the end of the day if you have done something that is going to help Jamie's case. At the end of this day it's going to feel good," she told the Winona Post in an interview.
Barb said the vehicle hitting Jamie was "an accident because Jamie shouldn't have been there. Nobody is expecting a body to be lying in the road at two in the morning." Still, knowing who the driver was would help her family come to terms with the loss.
The witnesses said the vehicle that hit Jamie appeared to be a gold or tan Jeep Cherokee. The Packers are asking anyone who might have information to come forward. The Buffalo County Sheriff's Department is requesting anonymous tips at 608-685-3379. There is a reward for information which can close the case.