‘The last thing you want to do is drive off’: Wilmington PD speaks out on recent hit-and-runs

‘The last thing you want to do is drive off’: Wilmington Police speaks out on recent hit-and-runs
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:41 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The suspect in Saturday’s fatal hit-and-run in Wilmington made her first appearance in court on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Emily Hayes faces several charges, including felony hit-and-run. She currently sits in jail on a $300,000 bond.

Prosecutors asked the judge to increase the bail to $1 million, arguing that $300,000 was simply not enough to make up for the life she took.

“You look at her record and you say it’s just a matter of time before she kills someone, and in fact, she does,” said one prosecutor.

Hayes is accused of hitting and killing 61-year-old Michael Bernard near Carolina Beach Road and Sunnyvale Drive early Saturday morning.

This is just one of the 119 hit-and-runs that have ended in injuries in the city of Wilmington since the onset of 2023. Two of those have been fatal.

“We do have a lot of hit-and-runs that occur,” said Lt. Greg Willett with the Wilmington Police Department.

He says the area’s growth, dimly lit roads and both pedestrians and drivers not following the rules of the road can lead to the hit-and-runs.

“If you absolutely have to find yourself, you know, walking along the road, which is perfectly legal, walk against traffic and stay away from that road as much as you can,” Willett said.

Willett says pedestrians can be at fault but a driver should never leave the scene. If the pedestrian is at fault, they can be charged.

“Even if you are in the 100% clear you are driving like you’re supposed to do and everything you’re supposed to. But you run over somebody or you hit somebody, the last thing you want to do is drive off, don’t do that.”

At the end of the day, the WPD says pedestrians should stay off the road, and drivers should be extra alert when driving, especially at night.

Hayes’ next court appearance is set for Oct. 5 at 9:30 a.m. Prosecutors say she could be charged with second-degree murder.