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POLICE: Sears on sidewalk when struck by hit-and-run driver

(WSAZ)
Published: Jan. 18, 2016 at 8:40 AM EST
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV MetroNews) -- 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, Morgantown Police said Tuesday.

Alexander Hambrick, 19, of Winfield, was arraigned on felony hit-and-run death charges Tuesday. His bond was set at $50,000.

Sears, 20, of Charleston, was visiting friends at WVU when she was struck along Stewart Street at 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Sears, who attended the University of Mississippi, died later that day at a Morgantown hospital.

“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 with 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.

Hambrick is a freshman at WVU.


UPDATE 1/18/16 @ 11:15 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- To her closest friends, Carli Sears was larger than life.

Sears died Sunday morning in a hit-and-run accident in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Morgantown Police say Sears was hit by a black pickup truck on Stewart Street around 2:30 a.m.

Police on Monday arrested Alexander Hambrick of Winfield, West Virginia. Hambrick is being charged under Erin's Law, a law that targets people who leave the scene after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

"She was just one of those great, great people. Someone you just always wanted to have around," said her friend Jessica Evans, who was a camp counselor with Sears at Camp Twin Creeks in Marlinton, West Virginia.

The two spent weeks together a time and stayed close through the years, despite attending colleges in different states. Sears attended Ole Miss in Mississippi, and Evans attended the University of Maryland.

Evans said, first and foremost, she will remember Sears for her fun and silly personality.

"That's what was so great about her," she said. "She didn't care what other people thought."

Evans says Sears was also loyal to her and a great listener. Evans would confide in her frequently.

At one point, Evans was Sears' supervisor and even wrote her letter of recommendation.

Evans says she has read that letter several times since hearing the news of Sears' death and is glad that she kept it. Now the document symbolizes unforgettable memories at summer camp and a friend that is even more unforgettable.

"Camp meant so much to her. It was just a mutual love," Evans said.


UPDATE 1/18/16 @ 6:50 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Even on their darkest day, stained by loss, when members of the Sears family gathered to mourn Monday, they were surrounded by colorful reminders of what they gained by knowing and loving Carli Sears.

"She was very entertaining," Carli's mom, Julie Sears said. "She was always lip singing and amusing; she was just somebody everybody loved."

A handful of Sears' closest loved ones came together in her Charleston home Monday, to begin making arrangements for the 20-year old's funeral, after she became the victim of a deadly hit-and-run early Sunday morning in Morgantown.

Carli's father, Brent Sears, says Carli was visiting friends at West Virginia University. Brent Sears says his daughter was walking back to the home where she was staying near campus, but never arrived.

Morgantown Police say Carli Sears was hit by a black pickup truck on Stewart Street about 2:30 a.m.

Police say on Monday they arrested Alexander Hambrick, 19, of Winfield, in connection with the accident. Hambrick is charged under Erin's Law for a motor vehicle crash involving death.

"This is something [Hambrick] is going to have to live with for the rest of his life," Julie Sears said. "All of us are."

"[Hambrick] veered off the road onto the sidewalk and knocked her over a hill and killed her," Brent Sears said. "Carli wasn't doing anything she wasn't supposed to be doing. The doctor made a point to tell us there were no drugs or alcohol in her system."

Family members say, while they were relieved to hear that the man police believe to be responsible was arrested, they are now putting most of their energy into remembering Carli.

"She brought a smile to the room," Brent Sears said. "Wherever she went, whatever she did."

"God plucked an angel for whatever reason we'll never know the answer," Julie Sears said. "She was my little baby bear and always will be."

Carli attended school at the University of Mississippi, where she studied hospitality management.

Sears' family members say they are expecting between 50 and 100 of Carli's friends from Ole Miss, including her sorority sisters at Alpha Omicron Pi, to visit Charleston for funeral services later this week.

The Sears family is hosting a visitation service on from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Snodgrass Funeral Home in South Charleston.

Family members say Carli's funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Charleston.


UPDATE 1/18/15 @ 2:30 p.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man is in custody after police say he hit and killed Carli Sears with a car.

Morgantown Police say Alexander Hambrick, 19 from Winfield, is being charged under Erin's Law for a motor vehicle crash involving death.

On January 17, around 2:30 a.m. officers from the department responded to a reported hit and run involving a pedestrian hit on Stewart Street.

Officers say Sears, 20, from Charleston, was struck by a black pickup truck driven by Hambrick.

According to police, Hambrick surrendered himself at the Morgantown Police Department.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the case.

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for updates.


UPDATE 1/18/16 @ 2 p.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Police say they have located the pickup believed involved in a hit-and-run accident where a young woman from Charleston was killed.

Carli Elizabeth Sears, 20, was killed in the accident about 2:30 Sunday morning on Stewart Street in Morgantown.

Morgantown Police identified the suspect vehicle as a black pickup with damage to the right front fender area along with possible grill and passenger mirror damage.

Police say they are currently processing the suspected vehicle for evidence. Detectives are also continuing to investigate and interviewing a number of witnesses.

No other information has been released.

Sears was a junior at Ole Miss majoring in hospitality management.

Keep clicking on WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.


ORIGINAL STORY 1/81/6 @ 8:40 a.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV MetroNews) – A 20-year-old woman from Charleston was killed in a hit-and-run accident early Sunday morning in Morgantown.

The victim, Carli Sears, was identified by the University of Mississippi where she was a student.

Morgantown Police say they are looking for a black pick-up truck that struck Sears on Stewart Street then left the scene.

The vehicle should have damage to the right front fender area along with possible grill and passenger mirror damage, according to police.

Sears was a junior at Ole Miss majoring in hospitality management.

“The University of Mississippi community mourns the tragic loss of Carli Sears,” said University of Mississippi vice chancellor for student affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc. “We are simply heartbroken by the news.”

Morgantown Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 304-284-7522.