Motorists call 911 before fatal DWI crash

July 14, 2008 5:27:47 PM PDT
A grieving family says they find it troubling that people were calling 911 about a drunk driver before their daughter was killed.Lillie Manis was killed in a car wreck early Saturday morning.

Monday morning, her parents --who live in Chapel Hill-- went to the Wake County courthouse to see for themselves the man who allegedly hit their daughter.

Police say Lilli Manis, 17, and her boyfriend Philip Jurov, 17, were driving along Glenwood Avenue, headed back toward Durham after seeing a 2 a.m. showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when police say a drunk driver sped through a red light at Lynn Road, hitting them.

Justin Crouse, 19, had been drinking when he ran a red light and slammed into Lilli and Philip. Crouse wasn't seriously hurt, but Philip was seriously hurt and is still in the hospital.

"This was a wonderful life that was now taken away from me, her brother and her father most painfully, but from the whole world," Lilli's mother Elizabeth Manis said. "You have no idea how much it hurts, how you don't even want to sleep at night cause you're afraid that when you wake you won't remember it and you'll have to go through that realization all over again."

Lilli recently graduated from Chapel Hill High and planned to go to college in Indiana, along with Philip, where she wanted to pursue art and Asian studies.

Her grief stricken parents attended Crouse's first court appearance Monday.

"I wanted him to have a face for the life he took away from this world," Elizabeth Manis said.

"It doesn't seem fair, I thought to myself how is he out on $50,000 bond, Philip is not out of intensive care. Lilli had not even been released from the medical examiner, and he's out," Elizabeth Manis said. "I thought how could he be out, walking around, free."

Authorities released the 911 call from a motorist who reported Crouse's driving behavior minutes before the accident.

    Caller: There's actually, I wanted to just call because there's a car ? either a white or silver like Honda or Ford Focus that's driving on Lynn road doing about 90 miles an hour that almost hit another car head-on almost side-swiped like 2 or 3 cars.
    911: Were you able to get a plate off the vehicle?
    Caller: No they drove by me entirely too fast.
    911: Alright...
    Caller: Swerving all over the road
Crouse was in jail for just three hours Saturday before bonding out. He has been charged with felony death by motor vehicle and DWI.


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