11/14/06 — Suspect identified in hit-and-run

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Suspect identified in hit-and-run

By Lee Williams
Published in News on November 14, 2006 1:45 PM

North Carolina Highway Patrol officials have released the name of a suspect in a Nov. 7 hit-and-run accident that killed a Goldsboro man.

Carol Coletrain Lane, 72, of North Beston Road, LaGrange, has been ruled the at-fault party in the collision that claimed the life of 47-year-old Andy Melvin Anderson on U.S. 70 East near Long's Plant Farm Road.

"Initially, she was a person of interest, but now she's a suspect," Trooper Sgt. B.W. Overton said. "Based on all the information obtained, we have probable cause that moves her from the person of interest to suspect. She is listed as the suspect on the collision report."

No charges have been filed against Ms. Lane. That decision will be made by Wayne County District Attorney Branny Vickory's office, Overton said, which is standard protocol in fatality vehicle accidents. Vickory was unavailable for comment.

Anderson, who lived along the highway, was walking home while carrying beer that he purchased from a local store when he was allegedly struck by Lane's white 1992 Buick LeSabre, Overton said.

New information surfaced that prompted Overton to abandon an earlier theory about Anderson's direction of travel.

"We had some inaccurate information that stated he was coming from his home with the beer," Overton said.

Overton could not say whether Anderson had drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. The findings will be detailed in a toxicology report, and the results are pending, Overton said.

According to the accident report, Ms. Lane's vehicle was traveling east on U.S. 70 in the left lane. As Anderson crossed the road, Ms. Lane's car allegedly struck him.

Officials have narrowed the time of the collision to 5:55 p.m. Nov. 7, Overton said Monday. The time of death was unknown, he added. Investigators had originally listed the time of the collision about two hours later.

Overton said Lane was wearing dark-colored clothing. He described the conditions that evening as rainy and cloudy.

Anderson's body was found the next morning in the median along U.S. 70 near the Elroy Volunteer Fire Department.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Chief Detective George Raecher said he received a call about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 8. Deputies, Elroy firefighters and state troopers responded to the scene to recover the victim.

That's when the search for the hit-and-run driver began.

Paint chips and glass fragments were found at the scene, leaving officials with little evidence to track down the suspect. Troopers were unsure what type of vehicle was involved or who was behind the wheel since no came forward to claim responsibility and no eyewitnesses came forward, but they deduced the vehicle involved was white in color. The vehicle also possibly had damage to the headlight, headlight assembly and windshield.

Some law enforcement officials say hit-and-run cases are the hardest to solve -- short of an eyewitness -- because little evidence is left at the scene for investigators to work with.

But in less than 24 hours, troopers got the break they were hoping for in the case, when Deputy Sgt. Carter Hicks spotted the vehicle that matched the description of the hit-and-run vehicle. The car was spotted in the parking lot at Madison's Prime Rib on New Hope Road Thursday afternoon.

Moments later, troopers, Wayne County sheriff's detectives and State Bureau of Investigation crime scene investigators flooded the parking lot. They questioned Ms. Lane about the vehicle and then seized the vehicle to take a closer look.

Detectives took photographs and combed Ms. Lane's vehicle, which had extensive front-end damage, a broken windshield and a broken driver's side mirror.

Some of the damage noted on Ms. Lane's car resulted from a previous accident, officials said. The date of the accident and the location were unknown.