Nathanial A. Gatchell had been watching a concert with his friends at a downtown bar before being hit early Sunday morning by a passing minivan, his grandmother said.
Gatchell, of Fort Wayne, died from blunt-force trauma at a hospital shortly after he was struck in the 1100 block of Broadway about 2:45 a.m., the Allen County Coroner's Office said Monday.
Anissa M. Northrup, 33, of the 1600 block of St. Marys Avenue, has been preliminarily charged in the case with drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident. His grandmother described Gatchell, 26, as being a 6-foot-3-inch "health addict," who was helpful to his family and had many friends. She said he was walking to his car when he was hit.
"He knew a lot of people. He was always there for his friends and they were always there for him," Betty Gatchell said. "They're going to miss each other."
Nathanial Gatchell was a month away from getting a Spanish degree at IPFW and was set to teach Spanish at Bishop Luers High School next fall, his grandmother said.
He also enjoyed riding his bike and was a graduate of Northrop High School.
His death, the seventh traffic fatality in Fort Wayne and Allen County in 2012, was ruled an accident, the coroner's office said.
The crash happened on Broadway near West Jefferson Boulevard. Northrup was driving north in a minivan when she hit Gatchell, who was standing in the street or trying to cross it, police said.
Gatchell was unconscious and unresponsive when police arrived. He was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead, police said.
"I'm still trying to come to grips with it," Betty Gatchell said.
Witnesses reported seeing the minivan strike Gatchell. They told police the vehicle was light-colored and had damage to the front passenger side.
After the crash, the driver did not stop and continued north on Broadway, police said.
Minutes later, a police officer pulled over a minivan matching the description in the area of Huffman Street and Franklin Avenue, near Hamilton Park, about a mile and a half north of the crash scene.
Northrup was arrested and faces preliminary charges including causing death while operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more, causing death when operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more, causing death when operating a vehicle while intoxicated, failure to stop after an accident resulting in death, reckless homicide, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering a person.
Northrup was released from jail Sunday evening on $10,750 bail and is due back in court Thursday morning.