DANIA BEACH (CBS4) - Bernard Williams was a “brilliant” man, who fell into alcoholism and homelessness, and was killed by a hit-and-run driver this morning on Federal highway in Dania Beach.
Investigators say a passerby came upon Williams’ body lying in the southbound lanes of the highway at 12th street about 4:15 AM.
Whoever struck the man kept on going. At that hour of the morning little traffic was on the roadway, and no witnesses had come forward by midday.
“We really are asking for the public’s help at this point,” said Broward sheriffs office spokesperson Kayla Concepcion.
Investigators this far have no description of the hit-and-run vehicle and the incident was apparently not captured by any security cameras at surrounding businesses.
“He was a very bright man,” said Myrtle Corbin, sister of Bernard “Bernie” Williams, the dead man. “He stayed very current with politics, was very much aware of ongoing events, and history.”
The sister told CBS4′s Gary Nelson that Williams has six surviving siblings.
“He was a skilled worker, a Master welder,” Corbin said.
Williams was married, had a son and then divorced.
Following his divorce, Williams became estranged from his son, and his life began a downward spiral. He took to the bottle and chose a homeless lifestyle.
“He began to drink, and began to live in the streets,” his sister said. “He would come to eat at my house from time to time and would come by almost every day if nothing other than to say hello,” she said.
One resident of the Dania Beach neighborhood, who did not give his name, said Williams could be a scary figure, harassing and threatening people at times. He was arrested a number of times on charges of trespassing, alcohol-related violations and other offenses not un-common to the homeless.
“Whoever hit him should have stopped, I would’ve stopped, Bernie would have stopped,” The sister said. “He had a very kind heart.”
A cousin said Williams was a good, decent man.
“He taught me to try to stay out of trouble. He taught me to do right, to treat people right.”the cousin said.
“He gave up on himself,” the cousin said of Williams devolving into drink and life on the street. “That’s the only way I can say it, he gave up on himself.”
Anyone with information regarding the fatal hit and run is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Callers may remain anonymous, and still collect a reward. Bernard Williams’ life was worth something.