Local News

Driver charged in Fayetteville wreck that killed two

Posted August 12, 2011 12:03 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2011 6:31 p.m. EDT

— The 17-year-old driver of an SUV that flipped in Fayetteville last weekend, killing two passengers, was charged Friday in their deaths.

Bryanna Hamilton faces two counts each of felony death by motor vehicle and felony assault by motor vehicle, police said. She was already charged with driving while impaired, speeding, careless and reckless driving and driving without a license.

Hamilton was released into her mother's custody Friday afternoon after posting a $66,500 bond.

"Anytime that you have alcohol and death, you're automatically looking at manslaughter, felony-type charges," said Sgt. Eric Dow of the Fayetteville Police Department.

Seven people were in a Nissan Pathfinder early last Saturday when it hit a curb on Rosehill Road and overturned, police said.

Denzel Graves, 16, of Spring Lake, died at the scene, and Cheyanna Cummings, 18, of Hope Mills, died Sunday afternoon at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

Neither Graves nor Cummings was wearing a seat belt, police said.

Warrants state that Hamilton's blood-alcohol level was 0.14, or nearly twice the level at which drivers are considered impaired under North Carolina law. The Pathfinder also was going 55 mph in a 45-mph zone, according to warrants.

"I don't think you could put anything else in this to make it more, well, not a good recipe, but a recipe for disaster," Dow said.

Hamilton and four other passengers – Alya Shaw, 19, Chyna Harris, 18, Benyetta Nicholas, 17, and Isaiah Nicholas, 14, all from Spring Lake – were injured in the wreck.

"Bryanna is really beat up from the accident, but she's more beat up mentally," Hamilton's mother, Letresa Lilly, said Monday. "She's hurting. She and Chey were like sisters."

Lilly said she wasn't sure where the teens were headed when the wreck happened, but Fayetteville police say that Hamilton was on her way back to a birthday party at a house off Ramsey Street. She had left the party earlier to pick up others who were in the car, police said.

David Williams, a spokesman with the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, said charges are expected Monday against people involved with the party. A 20-year-old woman lives at the party house, and there's no indication that any parents were present for the party.

No one was at the house on Friday.