Local News

High school student dies in Raleigh hit-and-run

Posted January 17, 2014

— A 16-year-old girl who was injured during a hit-and-run Thursday night on North New Hope Road in Raleigh has died, police said. 

Investigators said Friday morning that they found the driver who hit Justice Yasmeem Smith, an 11th-grader at Wake Forest High School, as she crossed the road at Water Oak Drive shortly before 10 p.m.

William Creamont Beary, 36, of Babbling Brook Drive in Raleigh, was arrested at his residence and charged with felony hit and run involving death or serious injury. He was held on a $25,000 bond and scheduled for a first court appearance Tuesday.

Raleigh police said the impact from Beary's 2005 Dodge minivan knocked Smith to the pavement, where a second vehicle struck her. The second driver, identified as Elizabeth Gray of Raleigh, stopped.

Smith died at WakeMed.

"I'm destroyed," Gray said through tears Friday. "I can't even tell you how upset I am. Me and my family and friends are praying for the young girl's family."

A spokeswoman with Wake County Public Schools said schools had a scheduled early dismissal Friday. Counselors will be provided when students return Tuesday.

Smith's classmates took to social media to remember the teen Friday. Many described her as kind and caring.

"When people saw here, they were like, "Oh my God, she is so beautiful and so popular.'" said Smith's friend and classmate, Passion Jenkins. "That didn't stop her from talking to people who were less popular. She just treated everybody equally."

Tradisha Reid, who is Jenkins' mother, expressed sympathy for Smith's family.

"I just couldn't imagine life without my child," she said. "My heart goes out to her family."

Said Jenkins, "I will miss her, and I will never forget her."


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  • Emperor Jan 22, 2014

    Lamborghini Mercy Jan 17, 3:39 p.m. "... drivers have to remember that pedestrians always have the right away."
    And there we have it. Part of the problem is that too many people/pedestrians believe that they ALWAYS have the right of way (not "right away"). Go to: www.ncdot.gov/bikeped/download/bikeped_laws_Guidebook-Part-2.pdf‎ page 17.
    Pedestrians DO NOT ALWAYS have the right of way.

  • peinisiniu Jan 20, 2014

    NC has a problem with HIT AND RUN crimes. We need to update/upgrade/magnify the sentencing for hit and run crimes.

  • busyb97 Jan 17, 2014

    It scares me sometimes driving in certain areas where folks just cross wherever. (Capital Blvd- north of the beltline can be awful!) People cross, usually wearing dark clothing, so you can't see them, if at all!. And too many times I have seen them STANDING on the lane lines waiting for a car to pass. REALLY?! I don't know if this girl was doing that or not- but she was obviously crossing when she shouldn't have for starters...but if she was in between two lanes- did she get clipped by a car (who probably didn't see her....sorry- but if she's wearing dark clothes and has dark skin (ANY one for that matter) and it is 10pm- hard to see you!). You don't exactly expect a person to be standing there. Not all car lights- in town especially can see everything. The shadows and street lights on some roads make it tough. The 2nd car was probably not far from the 1st, so no way to avoid her. Maybe the first driver didn't even realize they hit someone.

    So sad, and so easily avoided!

  • peppercorns Jan 17, 2014

    this is sad ...for so many involved..BUT this is also why you keep your kids close and not let them out late at night, 16 is too young to be out unsupervised. This tradgedy never shound have happened,

  • caryzoo Jan 17, 2014

    Oh, yeah. 2 girls got hit st the beginning of the 2013-14 season. I got a response from a Wake County School board member saying they would look into it.
    No response months later. Typical the current WCPSS board. If you want your kids safe...get rid of everyone on the current board.

  • mafiamic Jan 17, 2014

    Sad.prayers to the family and to Elizabeth Gray and her family.

  • deepntheshadows Jan 17, 2014

    View quoted thread

    crossing illegaly doesn't make what happened more exceptable...

  • whyalltheproblems Jan 17, 2014

    one of the young men my husband mentors was a very good friend of this girl. found out when I talked with the young man today.
    the bottom line is that there is a family who is grieving the loss of their daughter, friends who are grieving the loss of a friend. why she was out that late, why she didn't cross at a crosswalk, and all the other questions tossed at her don't matter. take any thoughts of why this or why that, and turn it into sending thoughts of peace to her family..and to the family of the man who hit her and the woman who stopped.

  • bdu4dals2 Jan 17, 2014

    The person that hit her will be found and when they do I submit a 2nd degree murder charge. This has to stop, too many people getting hit and the drivers don't stop to at least render first aid if possible.

  • Lamborghini Mercy Jan 17, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Crosswalks don't exist everywhere and while I agree you have to be cautious crossing a road, drivers have to remember that pedestrians always have the right away. The facts in case was a hit and run which is illegal and strongly suggests the 1st driver was in fault.