Local News

Support, Outrage Continue Growing After Overpass Attack

Posted March 16, 1999

— The reward to find whoever dropped a 30 pound rock from a Cumberland County overpass is growing.

The boulder seriously injured a teenager from Canada, and the reward is one of the many signs of support that continue to pour in.

So far, detectives say all their leads into Monday's incident have turned into dead ends. Together, Crime Stoppers and local businesses are offering $2,500 for information leading to an arrest.

"We're confident, and we trust our son's life in their hands," said Dennis Vytlingam.

Vytlingam and his family can only wait. While they wait, the flowers keep coming in, along with money from strangers eager to help the family.

It has been several days since a 30 pound rock thrown from a Cumberland County overpass hit Michael in the head, and the outrage is growing.

"It could happen to anybody," said Fayetteville business owner Bennie Williams.

Williams is so upset by the random attack that he is putting up a $500 reward and is encouraging other local businesses to do the same.

"It certainly wouldn't hurt to offer a small amount, and it would encourage someone to come forward," said Williams.

City and county leaders have officially come forward and apologized to the Vytlingam family. They are offering help in any way they can in the hopes of turning a negative experience into a positive one.

"They'll remember the terrible tragedy put on by one or more thugs, but they'll remember this community cares," said Mayor J. L. Dawkins.

"I feel bad to know that people in the county feel responsible for it, because I'm sure nobody wishes it to happen. I'm sure the person who did it would say to himself 'Oh my God, look what I've done,'" said Vytlingam.

Dawkins says some private business leaders have also donated money to try to get the rest of Vytlingam's immediate family here from Canada.

The public is responding as well. An account has been set up to help Vytlingam's family pay for his medical expenses and their stay in the United States.

Donations can be made to:The Michael Dennis Vytlingam FundAny BB&T bank location

Cards can be sent in his name to:Cape Fear Valley Medical CenterP.O. Box 2000Fayetteville, N.C. 28302-2000.

The tragedy and the outpouring of goodwill has attracted national media attention.

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