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'I can't believe it': Friends want answers after fatal hit-and-run at Acadia

Nicole Mokeme, 35, was killed in the incident that happened at the Schoodic Institute over the weekend. Police are still looking for the driver.

PORTLAND, Maine — Nicole Mokeme is being remembered by those who knew her for her bright spirit and kindness toward others. 

"She was a sweet kind, caring, loving, just beautiful person," Marion Sloan told NEWS CENTER Maine on Monday. "I just absolutely loved her."

Sloan said the pair knew each other through church, sang together, and went on adventures. 

Mokeme was one of the organizers of the Black Excellence Retreat 2022 at the Schoodic Institute located in Acadia National Park this weekend, where she was killed. 

Maine State Police said she died after being struck by a car sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The driver reportedly took off. 

Officials are asking for the public's assistance in locating the vehicle believed to be a 2016 Black BMW X3 SUV with license plate 5614WM. Police said the car is registered to Raymond Lester, 35, of Portland. 

"I can't believe it," Sloan said. "I just can't believe it."

Sloan, who did not share specifics about the incident, said her friend died on a trip where she was doing what she loved: empowering people. 

Mokeme was the creative director of the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat. The organization aimed to empower people of color. 

Sloan said through wellness retreats and programs, Mokeme helped young Black and indigenous kids experience the Maine outdoors and gain confidence in the process.

Through farming, sailing, fishing, and more, the retreats were intended to show people of all ages what they were capable of. 

"She just wanted them to have different experiences and realize that there is so much more out and the world, so much more they can do," Sloan said. "It's just so beautiful for her to bring things like that to kids who can now look up and say, 'I can do that, too.'"

Mokeme was a member of the Green Memorial AME Zion Church in Portland.

Senior pastor the Rev. Kenneth I. Lewis posted to Facebook on Monday, mourning her passing.

"As a member of the Green Memorial AME Zion Church, Nicole’s presence and spirit was profound," he wrote. "If one ever had a chance to engage Nicole one left her presence both impressed and impacted."

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It is with profound sadness that I share with you the untimely and unfortunate passing of Nicole...

Posted by Kenneth I. Lewis on Monday, June 20, 2022

Maine State Police said anyone who may have information about the hit-and-run should call 207-973-9700.

"Please if anybody knows anything," Sloan said. "I miss my friend."

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