It has been more than 15 years since Shelly Meadors was killed in a still unsolved hit-and-run. Investigators are pursuing new leads in the case, but have yet to make an arrest.
DESTIN — One of Belinda Meadors' fondest memories of her daughter took place one night 15 years ago. While Belinda was putting on makeup before heading out to work, her 15-year-old daughter went through her wallet. Shelly took out her mother’s license and noticed that she was an organ donor.
“If anything ever happened to me, I want to be just like you and donate my organs," she told her mom.
A few weeks later, Shelly was killed in a still unsolved hit and run while visiting Destin on fall break with friends. Her organs were donated to at least five people, saving their lives.
“It’s really hard to explain losing a child," said Belinda, who lives in Kentucky, during a phone interview. "It is a piece of you that is always gone because you don’t have your baby in your life."
On Aug. 10, 2002, Shelly was staying at the Holiday Inn in Destin with her friends Tiffany Logsdon and Lauren Smith. After spending the day snapping photos at the beach, the girls decided they were hungry and began to head across the street to grab a slice of pizza.
It was after 8 p.m.
Shelly was standing on the sidewalk along U.S. Highway 98 across from the Big Kahuna’s water park adjusting Logsdon’s halter top when a large white truck towing a watercraft drove over the curb and struck the trio.
The force of the impact threw Shelly 40 feet. Logsdon was blown back about 10 feet.
Shelly was taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center where she died the following day. Logsdon’s leg was injured and she spent the next month in a wheelchair. Smith was unharmed.
Several witnesses saw the truck leave the scene, but no one has ever been arrested in the case. Numerous people have been questioned over the years.
According to Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michele Nicholson, all of the leads have been pursued.
“The Sheriff’s Office has been actively pursuing multiple leads that have come in over the years, but nothing that has led to the driver of that vehicle,” said Nicholson.
Nevertheless, the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t given up hope and the leads haven’t dried up either.
“We recently got some information that has been pursued, but it hasn’t led to anything significant," she said.
The case was also recently handed over to a new investigator at the Sheriff’s Office, Richard McCoy. Nicholson said that the department does this periodically to “put some fresh eyes" on cold cases.
“It’s a case that is still being talked about and we try to bring this story out once a year,” said Nicholson. “This is a case that haunts investigators and the local public, really.”
Shelly’s family is still grieving.
“She was the most bubbly, vibrant person you could come across, she didn’t have a negative bone in her body,” said Kristi Helm, Shelly’s sister. “She was giving. She was very involved in her church. She volunteered with the homeless, the humane society and she was a cheerleader."
As for Shelly’s mother, not a day goes by that she isn’t haunted by her daughter’s tragic death.
“You wake up and everything is OK for a second then you realize that Shelly is gone and then you have to stay strong," she said.