The North Carolina State Highway Patrol honored three citizens on Thursday afternoon after they went the extra mile to help catch the killer of a woman that lost her life in a hit-and-run accident.
First Sgt. Daryl Conley and Lt. Doug Amos were on hand to present the Second Mile award to 12-year-old Randy Guardado, William “Bill” Boone and Gary Gaston, for going out of their way as citizens to help law enforcement in solving the hit-and-run death of Sherry Kittle on May 21.
Kittle was walking along Maiden Highway/Business 321 when she was struck by a vehicle that left the scene. Kittle was later pronounced dead at CMC-Lincoln. According to Sgt. Kelly Stewart, the supervising investigator on the scene, were it not for the actions of Guardado, Boone and Gaston, Highway Patrol might still be investigating the crime.
Sgt. Stewart credited the chain of events beginning with Guardado and his respect for human life. The 12-year-old was so devastated by Kittle’s death that he scoured the debris field in his yard until he found an antenna that helped Highway Patrol narrow down the search for the suspect vehicle to a Chevy. William “Bill” Boone of Skeet’s Auto Body in Conover helped to narrow the search further by pulling information off of a headlight. Law enforcement’s search was then narrowed to looking for a vehicle that was made between 2001–2006 and was a Suburban, a Silverado or a Tahoe. It was Gary Gaston that went a step further. Though employed by the Highway Patrol as a telecommunications manager, Gaston used his knowledge of the area and his own time to further narrow the search to vehicles of the particular make and model that were owned by people who lived around the scene of the hit and run. After knocking on numerous doors, Highway Patrol was given the final tips they needed to make an arrest.
Travis Kirk Fitzpatrick, 33, of Sherrill’s Ford, was charged with the hit-and-run before posting bond.
Jeremiah Kittle, Sherry Kittle’s son, was present for the ceremony and was grateful for the attention and care that members of the community showed when it came to finding his mother’s killer.
“It makes you feel real good, because deep down, you can’t help but wonder if this might be one of the times that they never find anybody,” he said. “We’re real glad they did what they did.”
“Helen Keller once said alone we can do little, together we can do so much,” Sgt. Stewart said. “This goes for our community partnering with us, with Highway Patrol. We can’t do it alone.”