Local News

Woman charged with running down friend

Posted September 8, 2008 11:41 a.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2008 9:12 p.m. EDT

— A Dunn woman was charged Monday with felony hit-and-run, a day after a man was found critically injured in roadside ditch in Harnett County.

Amy Elizabeth Whitman, 25, also was charged with felony assault with intent to kill, driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, and resisting, delaying or obstructing officers.

When Kevin West, 23, started walking home from a party Saturday night, Whitman took a van without permission and followed him, state troopers said. She crossed left of the center line of Brick Mill Road and struck West at about 10:15 p.m. There was no evidence she tried to brake, troopers said.

Whitman told the owner of the van that she had struck West, but when questioned by troopers, they said she claimed to have hit a deer.

"First, it was three deer. Then it was two deer," Trooper  Daniel Edwards said. "Then she stated she was so intoxicated she didn't remember what she hit."

Jennifer Cherry, West's older sister, said her family started looking for him when the Highway Patrol told them he might have been hit. They drove around for hours but only found him when they got out on foot.

"We just got out and walked up and down, and we heard him grunting," Cherry said.

Troopers said West was in a ditch 10 feet from the road, about 1 mile from from the wreck site and 1.5 miles from his home. It was noon before his family found him, Edwards said.

West was listed in critical but stable condition Monday at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

He was in a coma, and nearly every bone in the right side of his body – from his neck, back and ribs to his arm and leg – was crushed, Cherry said. A catheter drained blood off his brain, and he was on a ventilator.

"It's really bad. They don't know if he's going to wake up," Cherry said. "All he would say is, 'I love you, I love you.'"

Cherry said she believes that if Whitman – who had been friends with West and lived near him for five years – had told the truth, they could have found West sooner and he would have a better chance at survival.

"How could someone on purpose, if it was on purpose, just hit him like that and leave him there?" asked Cherry.

Whitman was being held in the Harnett County Detention Center under a $101,250 bond. She does not have a prior criminal record.

Cherry described her younger brother as a friendly guy who knows no strangers.

She said she hopes that he pulls through – especially for the sake of Alexis, his 5-year-old daughter.