Local News

Troopers: Driver beaten after accidentally hitting man

Posted March 20, 2011 3:17 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2011 6:11 p.m. EDT

— Bystanders severely beat a driver who accidentally hit a man running from a mobile home park near Henderson where large fights broke out Saturday night, state troopers said Sunday.

Troopers said the driver, who didn't want his name released out of concerns for his safety, was driving down Raleigh Road in Kittrell to get his son a late-night snack from Burger King around 9:15 p.m. Several large fights were taking place in a nearby mobile home park, troopers said.

Reuben Wright, 19, of Henderson, ran out into the road in front of the car, and the driver had no time to see him or stop, troopers said. Wright's head crashed through the front windshield.

Troopers said bystanders from both sides of the road rushed out into the street, dragged the driver from his car and assaulted him, nearly beating him to death.

He has been released from Maria Parham Medical Center, but his lung is still in danger of collapsing.

"The driver had cuts and bruises all over his head, all over his back," said Trooper B.E. Pulliam of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Wright was flown to Duke University Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition Sunday evening. He suffered serious head trauma and fractures in both his legs, according to Wright's friends.

Cindy Harris, of Kittrell, watched the attack and stopped to help the victim. She said she flashed her lights and held her horn down for five minutes to get the crowd to scatter. 

"I'm very angry," she said. "It was just a brutal, brutal beating."

She described how they pulled him from the car, and said four or five people kicked him repeatedly while one man sat on him and pushed his head into the cement.

"(I thought) they're gonna kill him, they're gonna kill him," she said. Though she felt powerless to help, "I couldn't leave him," Harris said.

The driver was eventually rescued from the scene in the truck of another bystander until paramedics arrived.

Bruce Coleman, a friend of Wright, said he didn't know the driver was injured.

"My attention was focused on Reuben," he said.

The Vance County Sheriff's Office is investigating the assault and no charges have been filed yet.