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Police: Victim on sidewalk when struck by hit-and-run driver

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Carli Sears was on the sidewalk and probably didn’t see the black pickup truck that left the road and ran her down from behind, police said Tuesday.

The investigation continued unfolding in Sunday morning’s deadly hit-and-run in Morgantown, with evidence showing the victim would have been defenseless.

Alex Hambrick, 19, was arraigned on felony hit-and-run death charges.

Sears, a 20-year-old Charleston native attending the University of Mississippi, was visiting friends at WVU when she was struck along Stewart Street at 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

WVU freshman Alexander Hambrick, 19, a 2015 Ripley High School graduate from Winfield, was jailed on a $50,000 bond and charged with felony hit-and-run.

“He left the roadway, went onto the sidewalk and Miss Sears was struck from behind. So there was no way she could even see the truck to avoid it,” Morgantown police chief Ed Preston told Hoppy Kercheval on Metronews “Talkline”.

Friends accompanying Sears described a black truck, and investigators discovered they were looking for a particular Ford F-150.

“Every black pickup truck could be the suspect vehicle. In this one, we had the particularized damage and the particularized tread pattern from the tire,” Preston said.

Morgantown police discovered a truck at an apartment complex outside city limits and combed through it Monday morning.

“We seized the pickup truck, were able to speak with additional witnesses, were able to track down the owner information on the vehicle while the vehicle was being impounded and identified Mr. Hambrick as the driver of that truck,” Preston said.

Hambrick surrendered to police at station headquarters Monday afternoon. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of a felony under Erin’s Law, which calls for a felony charge if a driver does not return to the scene of an accident where the victim dies.

There have been no charges related to alcohol violations.

“Him being taken into custody so far after the fact would negate any potential DUI tests,” Preston said. “So, right now, everything we have related to alcohol would be witness statements or things of that nature, text messages, and that’s all part of the investigative process that’s ongoing.”

Sears, who died at a local hospital Sunday afternoon, was a graduate of George Washington High School before attending Ole Miss, where she studied hospitality management.

Hambrick is enrolled in WVU’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

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