Man charged with DWI after girlfriend found in Raleigh street
Posted December 29, 2010
Updated December 30, 2010
Raleigh, N.C. — Police charged a Raleigh man Wednesday with drunken driving after his girlfriend was found unconscious in a street and later died.
A passing driver found Tempie Kitchin Kerr, 34, of Raleigh, lying face-down on St. Mary's Street near the Glenwood Avenue intersection at about 9:30 p.m. She died early Wednesday at WakeMed.
Although investigators initially thought Kerr was a pedestrian who had been hit by a car, a spokeswoman for Raleigh police said there was no evidence of foul play.
Officers did charge Chadwick Ryan Whichard, who had been driving Kerr around Tuesday night, with driving while impaired.
Kerr and Whichard were dating, her family and friends said.
Whichard, 36, of 2415 Glenwood Ave., told police that he and Kerr were arguing and that she jumped out of the car as it was moving and hit her head. He was driving at 15 to 20 mph at the time, he told police.
The driver who called 911 for help told a dispatcher that Kerr was covered in blood.
"I can't tell if she was hit by a car or jumped from a car," the man told the dispatcher. "There was no vehicle (here). I will tell you that, about four blocks back, I was passed on a two-lane street by a car. It was flying."
The caller told WRAL News that the dark SUV that passed him returned to the scene. A man, the caller believes to be Whichard, got out of the SUV and stayed with Kerr while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
Whichard registered a breath-alcohol content of 0.09, according to police records. That is slightly above the level at which North Carolina considers a driver impaired. He pleaded guilty to DWI in 2001, according to court records.
Members of Kerr's family gathered at the intersection Wednesday morning, saying they were trying to piece together the events that led to her death.
Bo Burgwyn, a cousin of Kerr, said the Scotland Neck native and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate was "full of life" and had many friends.
"She loved to be around people, loved to make people laugh, loved to socialize. (She was) just a happy spirit, for the most part," Burgwyn said. "I don't think I know of another young lady who had any more friends than she did. She's definitely very well loved."
The family is struggling to make sense of what happened, he said, but members are holding on to the memories of her life.
"We're a big family and a strong family, and we'll stick together," he said. "We were raised that way, and if you don't have faith and love, I don't know what will pull you through."
Lisa Disbrow, owner of Scout and Molly’s boutique in the North Hills shopping center, said Kerr had been a customer there for years. She described Kerr as down-to-earth and friendly.
Disbrow said she talked with Kerr on Tuesday evening when they happened to stop at the same gas station. She says Kerr's boyfriend Whichard was with her.
“They were both laughing and happy and seemed like they had a great Christmas together,” Disbrow said.