Planet Princeton

Princeton Police: Driver who struck and killed pedestrian in September thought he hit a deer

Xufeng Huang

A Virginia man driving through Princeton on the night of Sept. 15 thought he hit a deer in the roadway on Mercer Street near Hale Drive. He called police to report that he had struck the deer, not realizing he had hit and killed a 69-year-old woman from China who was visiting her daughter.

Xufeng Huang had been visiting Princeton for a few days. An enthusiastic photographer, she liked to take pictures on walks. She went out for a walk on Sept. 15 but did not return, and her family reported that she was missing just before 11 p.m. Relatives and friends distributed posters and sent out alerts on social media looking for her. On the morning of Sept. 17, a resident reported seeing a body in a grassy area just off Mercer Street, about 10 feet from the roadway. Investigators determined at the time that Huang was likely struck by a vehicle.

A search of all motor vehicle crashes reported on the night she disappeared revealed that a 44-year-old male motorist from Arlington, Va. contacted the Princeton Police Department at 8:09 p.m. on Sept. 15 and reported that he was involved in a collision with a deer on Mercer Street in the area of Gallup Road, police said today. The driver was operating a 2007 black Mercedes Benz. He went back to the scene with an officer but no deer was found.

It was only after investigators made the connection that the case was solved. They went to driver’s home to interview him and collect evidence that was then submitted to the New Jersey State Police laboratory for forensic testing. The test results were recently returned and it was determined that the vehicle did hit Huang.

Investigators from the Princeton Police Department and the Mercer County Prosecutors Office found no criminal conduct or recklessness on the part of the driver, police said. The investigation revealed that Huang was standing in the roadway when the crash occurred. Police said no criminal or motor vehicle charges will be filed against the driver. The name of the driver is not being released because he was not charged with any offenses related to the crash, police said.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Tony Fang

    I think he tried to cover up for what he did, cuz why would anyone even report hitting a deer?

  • Myla Sullivan-Schuyler

    Very odd and troubling, in my cases above the police searched the area immediately.

  • Myla Sullivan-Schuyler

    This does seem very strange — when I hit and killed a deer this past Fall near Princeton Day School, the police came and located the deer immediately. When I hit a deer a year previously in Flemington, the police did the same — came on their bikes and located the deer immediately. Wouldn’t the police have searched the area? And wouldn’t the driver have realized that he had possibly struck a woman?

  • Dennis

    This seems like incredibly shoddy police work. This case remained unsolved since September. Yet, the driver reported he struck something at the time and place, on the evening that Huang went missing. Why did no one connect the dots and investigate?

  • Ken Ford

    Agreed. If he thought it was a deer why not look for the injured animal? Why did the police not put 2 and 2 together sooner?

  • WTF?! How does an attentive driver confuse a human being with deer?

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