OCEAN CITY — Two Salisbury men were arrested last weekend after one allegedly hit a pedestrian in Ocean City on Coastal Highway at 55th Street and attempted to flee the scene on foot while the second got behind the wheel and attempted to move the vehicle that struck the person.
Around 2:20 a.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian on Coastal Highway near 55th Street. OCPD officers arrived on the scene and observed a female lying in the roadway in the northbound turn lane of Coastal Highway in front of a white four-door Cadillac with Florida tags. The pedestrian, a 21-year-old female, had severe head trauma and was transported to PRMC with non-life threatening injuries.
The 21-year-old female victim was treated at PRMC and was released the following day. The pedestrian was not in a crosswalk when she attempted to cross Coastal Highway and was struck by the vehicle. The area around 55th Street was one of many hotspots identified for frequent pedestrian-vehicle collisions and enhanced crosswalks and other safety features were added in the area last winter.
OCPD officers observed the vehicle’s driver at the time of the collision, later identified as Branden Whitley, 31, of Salisbury, walking westbound away from the scene of the collision with the victim still lying in the roadway. Witnesses on the scene identified Whitley as the driver and said the suspect could have stopped, but instead sped up before striking the victim.
OCPD officers had to run after Whitley in an effort to identify him and the suspect attempted to elude police by walking around a white van on the opposite side of the highway. According to police reports, Whitley was angry the police were approaching him and began to yell. By now, a crowd of around 30 people had gathered around and had their attention drawn to the suspect’s verbal outbursts.
OCPD officers attempted to get Whitley to sit on the curb, but he refused to cooperate, according to police reports. After several attempts, an OCPD officer pulled out his Taser and Whitley complied. OCPD officers observed several indications to suggest Whitley had been drinking alcohol prior to the collision including slurred speech, glassy eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his person.
According to police reports, Whitley had slurred and mumbled speech and admitted to consuming alcohol before driving, although his accounts of the events leading up to the collision were inconsistent.
Whitley was subjected to a battery of field sobriety tests, which he did not complete as instructed. He later admitted striking the pedestrian. Whitley also was found to be driving on a suspended license and could not provide documentation to the officers. He was ultimately arrested and charged with driving while impaired, hit-and-run and numerous other traffic and criminal citations. He was taken to the Public Safety Building for processing and was found to have a breath-alcohol concentration of .09, above the legal limit.
Meanwhile, back at the collision scene, when officers arrived they say the victim in the roadway and another man, later identified as Lester Simpson, 31, of Salisbury behind the wheel of the white Cadillac that struck the female. Simpson was allegedly attempting to move the vehicle from the roadway when he was approached by police.
OCPD officers stopped Simpson from moving the vehicle and noted a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Simpson was administered field sobriety tests which he failed to complete to the officers’ satisfaction. A breath-alcohol test administered registered a reading of .09. Simpson was also arrested and charged with driving while impaired.