HP: Some tips, but ‘standstill’ on fatal case

By: By Chris Berendt - cberendt@clintonnc.com

There have been a number of calls from citizens concerning the potential whereabouts of a vehicle that ran down a pedestrian in northern Sampson County over the weekend, but none have materialized into a break in the case, local N.C. Highway Patrol authorities said.

“We’ve had a few tips come in, but nothing has panned out,” Highway Patrol Sgt. S.F. Cotton said Tuesday.

Brian Keith Graham, 39, of Dunn, was walking south on Ira B. Tart Road near the Harnett County line when a newer-model Ford Mustang, also traveling southbound, struck Graham about half a mile south of Jada Allen Road, approximately 5 miles east of Dunn, killing him. The collision was reported at 9:33 p.m. Saturday.

Cotton called The Sampson Independent on Sunday to disseminate information on the wreck, notably a description of the suspect vehicle, in an effort to solicit any details from the public. She urged everyone to be on the lookout for a vehicle that struck and killed Graham before fleeing the scene.

The vehicle was described by witnesses as a silver/gray newer-model Ford Mustang with a black pinstripe down the side. She said plenty of tips have been received in the wake of the notice.

“Most just didn’t fit the description,” said Cotton. “They were Mustangs, but they were a different color or they just didn’t match.”

Graham, originally from Rockingham, had recently moved to Dunn, where he was reportedly living and working. It was unclear why he was walking in the roadway, but Cotton said he did not have a vehicle and was on his way to meet a friend.

Cotton noted that Graham was wearing dark-colored clothing at the time, but chided a driver that would keep traveling down the road after such an incident.

“The guy was in the road (at the time of the collision) on a dark stretch of roadway, but to leave him in the roadway and keep going really irks me,” Cotton said.

Some witnesses reported hearing the impact while others saw a vehicle parked in a field with its headlights on following the incident. Highway Patrol authorities went to the area where the vehicle was spotted, but found nothing. There were some shards of glass at the scene that Cotton said indicated that the windshield may have shattered. However, the number of occupants or a description of them was not able to be obtained.

The suspect vehicle was last seen traveling south on Ira B. Tart Road toward N.C. 55.

Cotton has been in contact with Graham’s father and said there has been some talk between the family and the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office about offering a reward for information leading to arrests.

“We’re just at a standstill,” said Cotton. “We’re hoping that if anyone has any information, they will come forward with it.”

The Saturday hit-and-run was the first fatality on Sampson County roadways in 2018. Anyone with information about it is urged to call the local Highway Patrol in Sampson at 910-592-3141, HP communications at 1-800-334-7411 or dial *HP.

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Family may offer reward for info

By Chris Berendt

cberendt@clintonnc.com

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.