11/27/06 — No decision on charges in hit and run death

View Archive

No decision on charges in hit and run death

By Lee Williams
Published in News on November 27, 2006 1:46 PM

Carol Coletrain Lane of LaGrange was shocked when she learned the sign she thought she hit on U.S. 70 on Election Day could possibly have been a man.

The 72-year-old grandmother will have to wait a little longer before she finds out if she will face charges in the hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of Andy Melvin Anderson, 47.

She is worried about what is coming next, but Ms. Lane also is thinking about the Anderson family.

"I would say standing on a stack of Bibles that I thought I hit a sign," Ms. Lane said. "If I would have known that I hit a man, I would have got the sheriff's department out there. It's called a hit-and-run, but I didn't run. I wouldn't have run from anything like this for nothing in the world."

Wayne County District Attorney Branny Vickory will decide whether to charge Ms. Lane, but he's not quite sure when he will make that decision.

"We still do not have a report from the Highway Patrol for this Lane case," Vickory said. "Obviously, we can't start reviewing anything until we get the report."

Anderson was struck and killed as he crossed the median heading home. According to the State Highway Patrol report, Ms. Lane, the driver of a white 1992 Buick LeSabre, was traveling east on U.S. 70 in the left lane when her car allegedly struck Anderson on the driver's side.

Wayne County sheriff's deputies, firefighters and state troopers recovered Anderson's body about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 8.

Deputy Sgt. Carter Hicks spotted Ms. Lane's vehicle in the parking lot of Madison's Prime Rib on New Hope Road on Nov. 9 and investigators moved in to take a closer look.

Ms. Lane was having lunch with her Sunday school class when investigators surrounded her vehicle. She said she had no idea what brought them.

It wasn't long before Ms. Lane's son, Jeff Lane, delivered the troubling news. He told Ms. Lane her vehicle was suspected in the fatal hit-and-run accident. As the words fell from his lips, Ms. Lane said she dissolved into tears.

"I just got up in the floor and cried," she said.

Ms. Lane said she was returning home after voting in the election. She made a pit stop at McCall's for some banana pudding and continued home.

"I was driving alone, and I hit something," Ms. Lane said. "I thought it was a sign. I thought if it was a sign, I didn't need to stop."

All motor vehicle crashes must be reported if they involve a fatality, a non-fatal personal injury, property damage of $1,000 or more or property damage of any amount to a vehicle seized, according to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

Ms. Lane said she is devastated that she might have been responsible for a family's grief. Ms. Lane's own son, Jerry Lane, was murdered at age 32. She said the pain of losing a son or daughter is something a parent never gets over, and she would never wish that kind of sorrow on anyone.

An autopsy report detailing the official cause of death is incomplete, officials from the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill said last week.

Highway patrol officials described conditions on the evening of the accident as rainy and cloudy. Troopers said Anderson was wearing dark-colored clothing.

Paint chips and glass fragments were found at the scene. Troopers said the responsible vehicle involved was white in color. The vehicle also possibly had damage to the headlight, headlight assembly and windshield.

Ms. Lane's vehicle had extensive damage to the windshield and front-end, and the driver's side mirror dangled from the car. Some of the damage noted on Ms. Lane's vehicle resulted from a previous accident, officials said.

Vickory said he is not sure when or if charges will be filed in this case.