Friends speak out about victim of deadly hit and run; girlfriend arrested

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The suspect arrested in Saturday’s deadly hit and run is the victim's girlfriend Brittney Nolan.

Nolan faces one count of leaving the scene of a fatal collision at 27th Drive and Westland Road, but police said other charges could be filed. Friends and neighbors spoke out Sunday night, and at least one person tells 3TV this was no accident.

Police said Nolan admitted she and the victim, Jacob Rice, were fighting before the crash, and that she went looking for Rice after they fought. According to police, Nolan said she was using her cell phone when she lost control of her Nissan and thought she had struck a pole.

She also admitted to drinking alcohol that night, police said.

At first some friends were defending Nolan, saying it must have been an accident. Now, they're not all convinced, but the focus Sunday night at the memorial was not on that. The focus was on the memories Rice leaves behind.

"A guy came here and he said, 'You know, that’s where Jake was laying. I found him,'" Shag Moris said. Moris, who said he grew up with Rice, was fighting back tears as he placed a rope below his friend's picture. "It's a shame,” he said. “It's a shame, you know, because it's not supposed to happen."

Moris and Rice used to be in rodeo together, and he said the rope holds a special meaning.

"It's pretty sad," Moris said. "We have a game called 'inside leg.' You take three steps, and you turn left and you rope the inside leg; everywhere I've been with him, that’s all we did."

Moris said he will always remember Rice's smile.

"He never really took anything for granted, you know?" Moris said. "He was always a happy kid. Always happy, always smiling."

Tommy Koeckes said Rice was just a friendly guy.

"He was a fantastic person and didn't deserve the outcome of his life so far," Koeckes said.

Koeckes said he hopes justice is served.

"I can't see somebody unintentionally doing this," he said.

Moris said he doesn't want to focus on how Rice died, but on the memories he's left behind.

"[We] always had fun,” he said. “We always made the most of it. I'll always cherish that."