By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Investigators in Polk County, Wisconsin are asking for help solving a fatal hit-and-run case that has gone cold.

In January of 2014, a truck hit 41-year-old Richard Cobenais and 27-year-old Benjamin Juarez on County Road East.

The driver initially stopped but then took off and has never been identified.

“It’s time for those responsible to do the right thing and restore faith back in humanity,” Chief of St. Croix Tribal Police Frank Taylor said.

For six years, family members of Cobenais and Juarez have been left to wonder who’s responsible and why did they leave.

“You people that are out there, if you have any kids remember my heartache,” Benjamin’s grandmother Shirley Juarez said.

Witnesses said that on the night of Jan. 11, 2014, Cobenais took car keys away from Juarez because he didn’t think he could drive. A confrontation between the men ensued and spilled onto County Road East. Seconds later, the men were hit and killed by a southbound truck.

“It was very traumatic and it happened so quick it was over in seconds,” Richard’s Wife Georgia Cobenais said.

Both of the men were hit by the front, right side of the truck. Investigators found pieces of the truck’s headlights and grill after the accident.

They believe the vehicle is a black Ford F-150 or F-250, built between 1997 and 2003.

“For truck enthusiasts, it’s the most popular truck ever sold in America. That made it difficult, but we’ve checked over 1,700 of those vehicles,” Sheriff Brent Waak said.

Polk County put together a video with emotional reaction from family members. The video also details how the driver and a passenger got out of the truck, walked to the ditch, and then quickly ran back to the vehicle and drove off. Witnesses said the men were wearing hats, and there were lights on top of the truck and a blue barrel in the back.

“As people, we are taught that forgiveness is peace. But I don’t have anyone to forgive,” Richard’s son, Thomas Fowler said. “My peace has been disrupted for six years.”

The sheriff’s office used a similar video in a previous cold case that generated more than 120,000 views on Facebook.

If you know anything, you are urged to call the Polk County Sheriff’s tip line: 715-485-8300.

John Lauritsen

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