FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Vehicle believed involved in fatal hit-and-run found

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Submitted: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 3:59am
Updated: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 9:15pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The vehicle believed to have been involved in a hit-and-run that killed a bicyclist last night has been located and brought in as evidence, according to New Hanover County Dispatch. Police say the car was abandoned near the corner of Marsh Hawk Court and Duck Hawk Court in Wilmington.

“Looking at the car, damage on the car, and the parts of it that are missing, it is very consistent with the vehicle that we were looking for last night that hit the bicyclist,” said Wilmington Police Department’s Sgt. Mike Donelson.

Neighbors noticed the vehicle matched the description of the white Toyotta Corolla police say hit and killed Tyler while he was riding his bike on Wrightsville Avenue near Lumina Station Thursday night.

When I spoke with Tyler’s mother earlier today, she was still in shock.

“I think I am still numb,” said Beverly Tyler.

Beverly Tyler lost her husband to a similar accident on the road when he was driving a motorcycle years ago. She says at this point, she can’t help but remember all the funny moments.

“The other ones when they were born screamed,” said Beverly. “And he just sort of came out and looked at us. My husband and my mother were in the room. He was like a grown-up in a little, tiny baby body sort of like, what do you want?”

Donelson says the next step will be finding out who the vehicle is registered to and contacting that person.


Police say around 10 p.m. Thursday a white 2011 to 2013 Toyota Corolla hit and killed Zachary Paul Tyler, 27, while he was riding his bike on Wrightsville Ave. near Lumina Station.

Today a memorial stands in his honor.

“I wanted people to see where this actually happened,” said Mary Klinge, who started the memorial. “If we can get the word out, they still haven’t found the person who actually hit him and the car is supposedly damaged. I wanted to get this started so when everyone drives by they can take a look and think.”

Klinge lives a block from the crash scene. She says she sees folks biking all the time and wants drivers to slow down.

“Wrightsville Beach is full of nothing but people on bicycles,” she said. “As we stand here, somebody is going to go by on a bicycle. Just slow down, everybody seems to be in a rush.”

Police are still searching for the person who killed Tyler.

Tyler’s mother, who was not ready to talk on camera Friday afternoon, left a comment on WWAY’s Facebook page earlier in the day.

“This was my son,” Beverly Tyler wrote. “Please whomever was driving the car come forward. We are a forgiving family and you need your family also.”

But the Tylers are not Zachary’s only family.

He worked at King Neptune restaurant in Wrightsville Beach for more than a year. Manager Earl McPherson, who also did not want to talk on camera, says Tyler was like family to everyone at the restaurant and rode his bike to work every day.

Anyone with any information about the car involved in the crash or the driver should call the Wilmington Police Department at (910) 343-3600. Information also may be submitted anonymously through Text-A-Tip. Enter Tip708 and the information, and send to 274637 (CRIMES).


  • Water dad says:

    We need better safer bike lanes. We don’t know why this girl did what she did but we can give other bike riders a safer road to travel so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

  • Ninja353 says:

    I travel Wrightsville Ave. on an almost daily basis and must admit I have always appreciated the point at which the speed limit increases from 35mph to 45mph, but I have also wondered why this is so. It seems one logical action to take, would be to reduce the speed limit to 35mph for the entire stretch.

    It is always much simpler to analyze the situation, after the fact, and at a safe distance. The driver should have stopped to help; she will most likely be tormented by her decision/inaction for the rest of her life. I hope all the people involved in this heartbreaking situation find a way to restore some sort of inner peace.

    I apologize for utilizing this space for topics other than the issue at hand, but felt the need to clarify a point regarding another touchy situation:

    In regards to an earlier comment concerning Sharia law, the punishment for causing the death of another is not the cutting off of one’s feet and hands; it is death (often by beheading), money (paid to the victim’s family), or forgiveness (when the victim’s family accepts that the resulting loss of their loved one was unintentional). The decision is made by the victim’s father or oldest surviving male relative. Removal of hands, etc. is carried out as punishment for multiple thefts, unless the offender is stealing solely to attain food for himself and/or family. This is rare, because it is custom to provide food and shelter to those who are in need. I am sure the use of Sharia law has been skewed, in many places, to allow for the general acceptance of many otherwise unacceptable acts.

  • Guest123123 says:

    Say what you want. If I am driving the posted speed limit on River road and driving in the MY LANE what do you expect a motorist to do if you the biker all of a sudden jump two feet to the left in front of me .When I say my lane I am referring to the lane that an officer of the law expects me to stay in. You know if you sway from YOUR LANE they have probable cause to pull you over. The biker has his POSTED BIKE LANE on River Rd. Have all you seen the signage!!! Betcha a jury of my peers would never convict if I was in MY LANE, sober and doing the speed limit. I personally think you must be crazy to ride a bike on a road with a posted speed limit of 55

  • cdwert says:

    Wow, first i must say you are incredibly insensitive to a family who has just lost a loved one. The incident did not happen on River Rd, but maybe you you see all cyclists as an annoyance wherever it may be. FYI bicyles are legally defined as vehicles in North Carolina, so i think any lawyer would have no trouble convicting you if you hit an innocent cyclist in YOUR LANE as you emphasized. I am not a biker but i do have a heart and your response makes me sick. I hope hope you never experience what this poor family is going thru. You obviously make assumptions on whether someone has the money to have a car instead of a bike. Why don’t you just slow down, give a biker some room.

  • Guest123123 says:

    Just tired of scooters and cyclists. They act like they are the only ones on the road.

  • Guestfffffff says:

    Tired of scooters and cyclists? Would you feel that way if it became YOUR only mode of transportation? Yeah, they’re a pain in the ass to deal with getting around in today’s go go go society, but they have every right to travel on public roads. Lose a family member in this way and see how you take those annoying scooters and cyclists.

  • RSimmons says:

    Someone who hits and kills another person with a vehicle then runs away should have their hands and feet chopped off.

  • you are a sick one says:

    You are speaking of Sharia justice that a Father stood by when he ran down his 18yr old daughter with his car and killed her because he felt she was becoming too Americanized? American law abides here only!!

  • Patriot says:

    Wow… Really? It the midst of a tragedy, not even 24 hours old, you’re going to call for violence and Sharia Law. Like somehow that is going to help? Are you out of your mind? We have American Laws, that when enforced, are just fine for Americans. A little detective work, and this to will be solved and American Justice will prevail.

    Lets really address the issue: bike riding around Wilmington is dangerous and always has been. I have lived here for 25 years and it’s never been safe. I rode a bike until I was 28 and moved here. You wouldn’t catch me commutting by bike.

    So we need bike lanes. How expensive would that be and would Wilmingtonians be willing to add another tax?

    I also agree with bikers own safety responsiblities. I see bikes on the wrong side of the rode, not following traffic patterns or signals. Not being lighted or having proper reflectors. When I was a kid, ions ago, we learned bike safety and pedisterian safety in school. If the schools can’t do it, then the parents need to.

    But to say we need Sharia Law to fix Americans problems, knee jerk reaction would be to suggest you go to the middle east and live where sharia law is embraced and practiced. Good Luck on that one.

    Condolences to the family that lost a son. God Bless you and yours.

  • J3chem says:

    I live near the accident scene, right off Wrightsville Ave. I ride my bike on the road all the time, people are doing upwards of 60 miles an hour on that area of Wrightsville. Police need to put up radar there.

  • Guest45654 says:

    Really? Have you ever been to traffic court on Fridays? Between 500-1000 cases EVERY FRIDAY of just traffic violations! Problem in Wilmington is there are more crappy drivers than there are people to catch them.

  • jj says:

    When I was a Deputy Sheriff I spend a good deal of time in the court room. Sorry, to say that is part of the punishment and if they need to they should hire more Judges.

    The law is the law and each time someone speeds or runs a stop sign it could be your love one that they hit and kill.

  • Guest Reply says:

    These events with “Hit and Run” are becoming a common story in the news any more…and it’s really not that hard to figure out why, WPD.
    With all respect to the victim…here are “2” Tips for the WPD:
    1. Patrol the streets more 24/7…..
    2. More License Check Points (don’t wait for just a Holiday weekend)……
    Beef these 2 up…you may just put a dent in such events as this.
    “Enter Tip708″

  • jj says:

    I have to agree with you. Traffic issues are way out of hand. There is no enforcement by the Police Dept. and so people think they can get away with everything. I think it is time for a new police Chief that will get his people to enforce all the laws.

  • GuestME says:

    I agree, but have you ever noticed how many people on this site go crazy at the thought of check points? All of a sudden you have a bunch of armchair lawyers debating the legality of the police stopping people. You get a bunch of disgruntled people calling it a police state and saying it violates their civil liberties. Can’t have it both ways.

  • Guest4396 says:

    How would harassing motorists with frequent license checkpoints have prevented this accident? A bicycle on Wrightsville Avenue any time is dangerous, but after dark? Did the bike have proper lighting? How much at fault a pedestrian or bicyclist might be is rarely reported. Let’s get all the facts. We must be responsible for our own safety.

  • LA says:

    I agree. Wilmington is not a bike friendly town. I used to train for triathalons and have stopped because it is just way too dangerous out there for bikers. Every time I pass someone on a bike while driving my car and can’t help to think how crazy they are! Riding your bike at night on a road like Wrightsville Avenue is an accident waiting to happen.

  • Guest Reply says:

    Why do so many people “MISS” the point some times when it comes to using common sense…about the Police patrol issues in Wilmington? Ya got me!
    The point is (spelled out for you)…this driver fled the scene…did they not? Obviously the diver was:
    1. Scared (that’s a given)
    2. Possibly their license/insurance revoked (driving against the law)
    3. Under the influence (driving against the law)
    Laying aside the fact they fled the scene…with more (get this now) Check Points by the Police…these violation drivers, so to speak, would be stopped…taken to jail…all the above. I guess you disagree also that more Police presence in the town will curtail some of these wreckless drivers as well.
    It’s always from the same commenters that the Police are too many…on their tail too much…and just giving out tickets to speeders. Well good…where ever that is in town, because I sure as Hell don’t see it…unless it’s after an accident has occurred…then BINGO…there they are! Guess that’s a reason to believe Wilmington is upwards of the highest accident/death and injury rate by vehicle in NC.
    “We must be responsible for our own safety” (Unquote). You are so right…the Police won’t bother.
    Class is over children…go home!

  • Rhonda says:

    How dare you? This is a family member of a friend of mine. I bet you wouldn’t say that if it were YOUR family member

  • lonetraveler says:

    Are you forgetting that the scum who was driving the car that hit this young man left him to die in the street? If it was an accident and just for the sake of addressing your comment, the driver did not see the biker, why didn’t they stop and render aid, call 911, stay for the EMS and police and help any way they could? They did none of this, instead they fled like the cowards they are because they had something going on that they did not want anyone to know about, like maybe they were drunk, or maybe they had drugs in the car, who knows? They were too afraid for themselves to stop. Stop making excuses for them. They need to turn themselves in to the police, now.

  • Barbara says:

    Not friendly for walkers either…..unless you get in your car & drive to a walking trail…..but to walk in your subdivision, you are taking a big risk. Drivers seem oblivious to bikers & walkers……

  • Guest4396 says:

    Re-read my previous post and point out where I am supporting a hit and run driver. I just said that MAYBE the cyclist contributed to the accident if he did not have lights (required by law) on his bike. It is very possible the driver never saw him.

  • Guest234 says:

    This particular issue is an issue of morals. License checkpoints and more tickets would likely have no effect on someone who just killed another person with a car. The police are an easy target for us all -heavy handed and over-reaching if they turn to heavy enforcement and slackers if they let anyone go but you when you get stopped. They have a job most of would NEVER do regardless of pay. Leave WPD out of this one. My guess is that they will do their job and bring a killer to justice. A little support for our local protectors goes a long way with them . They can’t be everywhere at once. We need to take responsibility for our own actions and outcomes. I can’t imagine our society WITHOUT police as much as I don’t want to be stopped/bothered either. Just do the right thing.

  • Guest2013 says:

    I always hate to hear of terrible accidents like this, especially when it involves car vs. bicycle. The city of Wilmington has a bike trail that has been in place since I moved here in the 1980’s. It runs straight through the city from downtown to the beach but very few people use it or know about it, it seems. It is called Park Ave. You can bike from Seagate to downtown and not have to use Wrightville all! Now you can even hook up with the cross city trail at Rose ave and take Eastwood all the way to the beach. I wish the city would spend a little to advertise these trails so bikers can avoid the dangerous roads like Wrightsville Ave.

  • PublicAvenger says:

    I have no idea who took his life, or the circumstances. But most of the time they are drunk, and / or, driving without licenses, nor insurance.

    I hope he gets several years in prison. This man was just coming home from work.

  • Beverly Tyler says:

    He was on the bike path near the beginning of Wrightsville Ave? There is a straight shot from his work to home, he was going home, not taking a scenic route.

  • Brant says:

    But as you said, Park ave only goes to Seagate. This happened further down Wrightsville, almost at Eastwood and the WB bridge.

  • john gray says:

    It would be great if more people knew about and utilized that bike path, but where he was hit and where he was going has no appropriate bike lane. Zach biked to and from work at the beach everyday, traveling the same route that did not have a safe lane for cyclists.

  • Guest123123 says:

    Driver should not have left seen but that is why they call them accidents. Bikers on River road are awful. They just ride side by side instead of single file and seem to wander in the cars area all the time. If im doing 55 and they come in my lane is that my fault if they get hit???!!!

  • Guestreally says:

    Bicycles are considered vehicles in the great state of NC and as such – share the same rights and responsibilities as automobiles and their operators. They are not “reserved” for bike paths only! Here’s the executive summary for you from the NCDOT Driver’s Manual:

    Pass with Care
    A bicyclist staying to the right in their lane is accommodating following drivers
    by making it easier to see when it is safe to pass, and easier to execute the pass.
    Drivers wishing to pass a bicyclist may do so only when there is abundant
    clearance and no oncoming traffic is in the opposing lane. When passing a
    bicyclist, always remember the bicyclist is entitled to use of the full lane.

    Thus, hitting a cyclist and running is just as cowardly an act as hitting a pedestrian or another auto and running…

  • J.J. says:

    Clearly you are a troll or a low IQ narcissistic person. You’re actually blaming bikers vs. cars. Yes, it is your fault if you hit a biker in “your” lane. Trying to explain to you that “your” lane is just as much the bikers lane wisnt even worth it as clearly you will never comprehend that other people are equal to you. Loser.

  • fred pelpeons says:

    yeah it kinda is, thats why you take a drivers test before you get a drivers license. because people,animals and things will stumble out in front of you and you gotta be prepared. drive under the pretext that everyone is after you and drive defensibly.

  • Brant says:

    Yes, it would be your fault. Bikes are allowed an entire lane just as a car is. So there is no “car area” and it is not “your lane”. So according to the law, it will be entirely your fault if you hit a biker.

  • Guest 101 says:

    that’s a very insensitive comment. share the road.

  • xyz123 says:

    Guestomfg is absolutely right! She in fact ditched her car because I saw her and some guy do it. Did you see the damage up close and personal? I seriously doubt it unless you were there or came by the house where the car was parked to see before she ditched it. By looking at the severe damage especially to the windshield, there is no mistake a human being was hit. She may have ended up at an apartment complex (with her friends) to call the police, but that’s about it. You say, “The magnitude of her actions are becoming evident to her and she is willing to accept responsibility for what happened”, really (?), remember now, this happened Thursday night, your timeline and “facts” are full of dog squeeze. If that was the case, why did it take until Saturday “before she turned herself in”. Just doesn’t add up. Were you with her at the Raw Bar where she was seen drinking alcohol before she left that night? Why this wasn’t brought to light, I have no earthly idea, but let’s stick to the facts. The car was parked in a secluded driveway that night where anybody driving by there after could not see it (the damage). Now, are you trying to tell everyone that right when it happened, she drove to an apartment complex, parked her car and then called the police? BS! That would mean, somebody stole her wrecked car from that complex and parked it in my neighbors driveway for what? That’s because, THAT NEVER HAPPENED. It would have to be some elaborate scheme for someone to steal or “borrow” that car and have it end up where it was. You should be the one to learn the facts! I’ll give you my take, because I’m no idiot like you. Let me say this first, I don’t know who this girl is personally, but I have been and know a lot of people in the bar business for almost 20 years, they would have no reason to lie to me and they have no dog in this fight. So, with that said, let’s start from the beginning of what I personally saw. There is a house in my neighborhood that is rented to a bunch of young males, maybe college guys, I don’t know, but there is constant traffic coming and going, so there is a lot of cars parked there, so it’s hard to decipher what is going on. Now, my guess is, this girl knew one of those dudes and they let her park her car there after “it happened”. Whoever he was, he agreed to let her park her car there until “something” could be possible figured out. Her car was there in the morning and probably after lots of contemplation and other roommates freaking out it was decided, get that car outta here. Only a select few will truly know, anyway, I saw a guy and this girl get into a white car, pull out of the driveway. As they were leaving I could see severe damage and thought to myself, this is odd, damn what the hell happened to them. Didn’t think much, but when they just went around the corner, parked the car in my neighbors front yard (with the damage facing away from the road)and RAN away to another car where they came from and drove away, red flags popped up. Just after this happened my neighbor came home, saw me and asked did you see that unknown car park in so and so’s yard and I told this person yes. Because you couldn’t see the damage from the road and when I said the car was wrecked and this girl and guy DITCHED it and ran away and got into another car and left, this person said that it may be the car from the hit and run from the night before. We went up to the car and finally could see the true damage and our jaws dropped. This person then called the police and they were there within minutes. Several unmarked cars showed up and police everywhere. We were there when they showed up and initially they told us to stay away. I then began to tell them, I saw the whole thing happen and it was just a few houses away. Typical Wilmington fashion, I was told to stay away, even though I told them my story and what house the car came from. Needless to say, I was shocked towards their callousness. Several “authorities” stood there hamming it for several hours. I was sure a news crew would be there any minute, but that didn’t happen. I finally said this is bs and called wway and told them I saw the vehicle get ditched and by the time wway got there, the vehicle was getting towed away, hence the footage you saw. So, with that all being said, I can’t believe the final verdict, because there was ABSOLUTELY no follow up by the so called police. Now, you miss na├»ve little girl Elizabeth and your delusional statements, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  • Elizabeth says:

    She didn’t ditch her car. She parked it at the apartment complex where she had friends, and called the police. She told them that she was the guilty person, where they could find the car, and asked if she could wait until her mom could get there (7 hour drive) to turn herself in. Police gave permission. While I believe that she shouldn’t have left the scene, I know that she is not cruel, heartless, selfish or disgusting. The magnitude of her actions are becoming evident to her and she is willing to accept responsibility for what happened. Are you willing to stand behind your rants with your name, Guestomfg?

  • Guestfromwb says:

    I wasn’t aware of an apartment complex on Marsh Hawk Ct. That is a residential area, and report said neighbors noticed the car and called it in as a suspicious vehicle. But regardless of it all, she left a man to die. She wanted to wait for her mom? I’m sure he was asking for his mom too.

  • Guest131313 says:

    This event is a terrible terrible accident… I have no intention of negating the travesty of the loved ones that are mortified over this recent death. However, I agree that we need all the facts. If I was “brave” enough to go biking on that street at night, I’d have all the gizmos available to enable sober and inebriated drivers to see me peddling along a road that is so utterly obvious not bike friendly at any time of the day!!!! All these gun ho people posting that the driver was a coward, drunk, scum bag etc. and deserves the most brutal punishment possible are clearly just ranting and raving without giving this situation any sort of intelligent thought. There are soooo many factors to this accident. I can’t say I’d leave the scene if I saw a biker get engulfed and mutilated under my car, but I sure would be in shock and disbelief that what I hit was a human on a bike at night with no strobes. That shock would be so intense that I would probably keep driving while everything processed. But who’s to say that the driver even saw the biker on that poorly lit road??! I have had a deer smack into the side of my car before and the thought that it might be a human NEVER crossed my mind and I did not pull over to investigate. My only thought was get to a pull off and see the damage to my car! This accident probably happened so fast that the driver did not realize what they hit until they saw it on the news. That must have been a horrific realization. This city needs better bike routes or as previously stated, better advertised routes. The guilty person will come forward as their car has been found, but in my eyes they are just as devastated as the victims family member and will need some time to process this life changing event. If the driver is just an honestly scared out of their mind normal human then the fact that they took a life is punishment enough. Jail time seems trivial And will not accomplish anything. How could it? Protect yourself better if you take risks. One life is ruined because of this don’t ruin the drivers life just because they were in the wrong place wrong time!!! Accidents happen and everyone involved learns from the mistakes. I’m ranting, but I have faith that humans are intrinsically good no matter the magnitude of their faults. Peace and love to both sides of this ordeal.

  • Guestomfg says:

    You must be related to the girl. SHE DITCHED HER CAR, why? Because she KNEW she hit a human NOT a deer. Jail time seems trivial ???? She RAN OVER A HUMAN BEING and left him to DIE. I bet she was high, no other reason to RUN AND HIDE. Silly girl, cruel, heartless, selfish, disgusting and needs to go to prison.

  • Guest15 says:

    Just as you said, you don’t know the person. But I happen to know she was not drunk, not without insurance, and also just on her way home from work. And I don’t think a person deserves years in prison for a complete accident.

  • Guestffff says:

    A complete accident? I think you’re confused. It would’ve been a complete accident if she had stopped her car. Did you not see the newest report? He was on the car for 91ft before he landed. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t notice a grown man on your windshield for that distance, that you would just keep going after hitting someone and carrying them that far. Under the influence or not, if you damage your car, MOST people stop to at least check their damages, not go ditch the car and lawyer up. She wouldn’t even be in this position if she thought of anyone other than herself in the situation SHE caused and stopped for that poor man.

  • Guest123123 says:

    You might want to read previous posts. Conversation turned into something else beside the accident and remarks were about bikers on river rd. Now for your legal lesson. A jury is who convicts, lawyer represents defendant, prosecutor tries the case against defendant. Have a great day

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