Clayton man apologizes for Wendell teen's hit-and-run death
Posted September 24, 2014
Wendell, N.C. — A Clayton man charged in Tuesday morning's fatal hit-and-run involving a Wendell boy appeared in a Wake County courtroom Wednesday morning and apologized for the 13-year-old's death.
Efren Vences promised to do all that he can to help investigators in the case.
"I really apologize for what happened. I wish it wouldn't have happened," Vences said following the brief hearing. "It's destroying me, but I am going to try and help out and be as cooperative as I can."
Vences, 28, of 186 Jack Road, surrendered to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Tuesday afternoon and was arrested on charges of felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor death by a motor vehicle.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says he hit and killed Keith Jones Jr. with his 1989 burgundy Ford Crown Victoria as Jones waited for the school bus on Edgemont Road. Vences then left the scene, investigators said.
A conviction on the hit-and-run charge could carry a maximum of six years in prison, while a misdemeanor conviction could carry up to 150 days in jail.
During his court appearance, Vences – who posted a $50,000 bond – waived his right to a court-appointed attorney, and the judge set his next hearing for Oct. 15.
Jones, a student at Wendell Middle School, was waiting for the bus outside his home, and was found face-down in a ditch by his mother when she left to go to work around 7 a.m.
Vences said outside the courtroom that he was on his way to work in Virginia around 6:30 a.m. when the collision happened.
"It was dark, so I couldn't really tell what it was," he said. "Once somebody called me and told me that this was on the news, I pretty much contacted the dispatcher right away, and I told him I was on my way back ... and where the vehicle was."
Jones' parents did not want to comment Tuesday on Vences' arrest, but both spoke earlier about finding their son after noticing his book bag and him nowhere in sight.
"I picked up his book bag," Marie Jones said. "It was somewhat damaged like it had been ripped off of him. That's when I knew something was not right."
Family and friends have set up a fund to help defray funeral expenses for Keith Jones.