November 20, 2021 | By Joe Ellis
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Dana Solomon never admitted her desire to be a mother. But when her son was born, she blossomed into a remarkable maternal figure, stunning her family.
Heather Speights had never been prouder of her younger sister.
Dana’s motherhood was cut short just 16 months after giving birth.
On November 12, 2006, Dana left her Jacksonville, Florida home following an argument with her husband. She walked to a gas station less than a mile from her house on a dark country road.
Ten minutes after leaving her house, Dana was struck by two cars on Normandy Boulevard. She laid on the side of the road in pain as passersby after passerby paid her no attention.
After about a half-hour, churchgoers on the other side of the road noticed Dana and called for help. She was suffering from serious wounds and brain trauma. Her injuries would eventually become infected and lead to sepsis.
Dana would be in the intensive care unit for a week before succumbing to her injuries. She died on November 19.
Heather described her younger sister as the “wild child” of the family. She cared little about what others thought of her. That’s a lesson Heather has valued in her own life as it taught her to be more comfortable with herself.
Dana hated being told what to do and loved to prove people wrong – that would sometimes lead to little arguments.
“She walked to the beat of her own drum,” Heather said.
Dana had an outgoing and kind-hearted nature. Although she could be blunt at times, her intentions were always good and pure to her loved ones.
Her childhood was spent with her sister around Jacksonville’s beaches.
In the winter of 1991, snow made a rare appearance in Florida. It was the first time the sisters had seen snow and they spent the day pretending to ice skate on the frozen ground together.
That’s the first memory Heather treasures of her beloved sister and she uses it to remind herself and her family of more joyful times.
Dana loved glamour from a young age and had a passion for fashion, makeup, modeling, and singing. She also modeled as a young adult and had a dream of moving to New York to become a singer.
When she turned 18, Dana married her high school sweetheart, Chris Solomon, in the summer of 2004. Dana became a mother in 2005 when she gave birth to her son, Landen Solomon.
Her desire for success made her so motivated and optimistic that her friends and family believed she could do anything. A year after Landen’s birth, she graduated from a massage therapy school and planned to move back in with her parents to get more help with the childcare and finances that her husband struggled to provide. She wanted the best possible circumstances for her and her son.
Landen was only 16 months when his mother died, leaving him with no memory of his mother.
Since his mother’s passing, Landed has lived with his aunt Heather. She has looked after him in the Green Cove Springs area ever since. With seven other children in the house, Landen has grown up in a close and lively household.
The family traditionally releases purple butterflies on the anniversary of her death as a symbol of her release and freedom. Her favorite color was purple. They continue this tradition to honor their beloved Dana.
Success and fulfillment were all Dana wanted for her and her son. Heather says Dana would have wanted her memory to echo the outgoing spirit and drive present throughout her life.
Landen is now 15 years old and shares his mother’s light complexion and hair color. His passion for wrestling has secured him a spot on the Clay High School wrestling team. This love of sport has made him active and outgoing, just like his mother.
Heather continues to remind Landen of how proud his mother would be of the young man he has become.
Original Story – August 2, 2015
On Sunday, November 12, 2006 just before 7:00pm Dana Solomon was struck by a vehicle while walking home from the Kangaroo Express convenience store on Normandy Blvd and Yellow Water Rd on the westside of Jacksonville, Florida.
Investigators believe that Dana may have been hit by a small, dark colored, metallic truck which fled the scene.
After fighting for her life for a week in the intensive care unit, Dana’s organ’s began to fail and she died on November 19, 2006.
Left to grieve and wonder what kind of person could hit another human being and leave them in the road are Dana’s friends and family, including her son who was only 18 months old at the time of her death.
If you have any information, no matter how small you think it is, about Dana’s hit and run death, please call the Florida Highway Patrol at (904) 695-4000 or Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500.
To remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS. You may be eligible for a reward of up to $3,000 if your Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest in this case.