Man hit by vehicle had been standing in the road

  • Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, October 11, 2012 3:17 a.m.

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY - A Thomasville man was standing in the middle of Patterson Road when he was struck by a vehicle early Wednesday, authorities said. He remains in fair conditon.
The incident occurred at 5:56 a.m. at the intersection of Patterson and Cooper roads.
James Whitaker, 29, was wearing dark blue and black clothing, said Trooper S.B. Marshall of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
Chelsea Upright, 22, of China Grove, was traveling on Patterson Road in her Jeep Liberty when she hit Whitaker. Upright told authorities she didn't immediately see Whitaker, but tried to swerve.
Whitaker was hit by the vehicle on the front passenger's side.
When the trooper arrived to the scene, Whitaker was already on the way to the hospital. He was flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Whitaker, who was responsive at the scene, had some head trauma and a possible broken leg. The trooper said he didn't think Whitaker's injuries were life-threatening.
Upright will not face charges.
Whitaker was charged with standing, sitting or lying upon a highway or street. Marshall said he was unable to find out why Whitaker was in the middle of the road. The trooper indicated there were earlier reports of someone walking in the middle of the road before the incident.
Rowan County 911 dispatchers confirmed a couple of phone calls about someone standing in the roadway before to the accident.
According to David Freeze, who is a runner and regular contributor to the Salisbury Post, he spoke to the man shortly before the accident.
Freeze, who was running in the area, noted how dark it was and said he almost ran into the man standing in the road. Freeze said he believes that man was Whitaker.
The man asked Freeze where the nearest store was and where he was headed, Freeze said in an email.
"He told me 'I just got kicked out. I need to get to Thomasville,' " Freeze said.
Freeze said he gave the man directions to the store, talked for a few minutes more and continued his run.
A few moments later, Freeze said, he saw lights, heard a loud crash and grinding noise and he "knew immediately what had happened."
Freeze flagged down a newspaper carrier and asked to use her cellphone to call for help.
He also received a lift to the accident scene.
Freeze said he stayed with the driver at the scene. Freeze said he could see the damage to Upright's vehicle, and her windshield was smashed.
In addition to the Highway Patrol, Locke Fire Department, Rowan County Sheriff's Office and Rowan EMS responded to the scene.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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