New mom killed in hit-and-run on Detroit's east side

Cars collide at Mack, Alter; Police have person of interest

By Shawn Ley - Reporter

DETROIT - Police from Detroit and Grosse Pointe teamed up Thursday to track down a suspected drunk driver who ran away from a crash where a new mother was killed.

It happened just after 2 a.m. on Mack Avenue at Alter on Detroit's east side. 

Denice Pate and her fiancé were traveling north on Alter when another driver heading east on Mack ran a red light and slammed into them.

The couple's car flew across the intersection and wrapped around a telephone pole. 

The other driver got out of his van, checked on Pate and her fiance in the car but then took off.

Police also said witnesses to the crash took the chance to steal tools out of the victims' car and also the engagement ring of Pate's finger.

Local 4 cameras were rolling as police converged on the man who was walking into Grosse Pointe about a mile away from the crash scene. 

A warrant was requested to draw the man's blood to check his blood alcohol content.

Police sources tell Local 4 they believe the driver was drunk when he slammed into the other vehicle.


New mother victim of hit-and-run

Denice Pate, 36, of Warren, was killed. 

Pate was a new mother to a baby boy.  Her son, Billie, was born six weeks ago. 

Last night, Pate and her fiancé went out for the first time without their son to a Halloween party.

Pate's mother, Verna Jellison, says Denice sent her text messages every ten minutes, checking on her son.

Jellison was babysitting her little grandson when she got the news that her daughter was killed by a suspected drunk driver. 

"She was checking on him every ten minutes, asking me if he was awake," Jellison tells Local 4. 

Jellison also says that she was finally seeing her daughter being happy for the first time in years, having found the love of her life and just having their son.

"My daughter is 36 and this is the second time I've ever seen her happy, with a smiling face. And, you know, I knew it was too damn good to be true," Jellison told Local 4 from her Warren apartment.

Pate's fiancé was also injured in the crash. He's listed in temporary-serious condition in the hospital.

The fiancé's mother rushed over to Jellison's apartment to break the news to her and to check on baby Billie. 

Jellison says all she wanted was for Denice was to be happy and now all of that has been taken away in an instant.

"I was hoping for happily ever after. You know, that fairy tell story every woman dreams of," Jellison said. 

Jellison, who is on disability, told Local 4 she will need help to pay for a funeral.

Donations can be made in Denice Pate's at the Chase Bank at 11 Mile and Van Dyke in Warren.

Police aren't identifying the suspected drunk driver until he is officially charged. 

The Michigan State Police report that impaired or drunk driving account for more than 36% of all fatal traffic incidents in the state last year.

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