Bystanders beat driver after pedestrian hit

Raleigh Road
March 22, 2011 6:17:35 AM PDT
The North Carolina Highway Patrol says a driver who accidentally struck a pedestrian near Henderson was pulled from his vehicle and severely beaten by bystanders.

Troopers say Eric Loznicka struck 19-year-old Reuban Wright of Henderson near Kittrell after Wright stepped into the road in front of Loznicka's car Saturday night.

One eyewitness told ABC11 Eyewitness News she's losing sleep because of what she saw.

"I haven't been able to sleep very well," witness Cindy Harris said. "It's the worst thing I think I've ever seen, just a brutal beating."

Harris was driving home on Raleigh Road just south of Henderson when she saw a car in the road near the drive-in theater. She didn't know it then but seconds earlier police say Wright was hit.

"I think he genuinely pulled over to make sure the gentleman was okay," Harris said.

Harris says that's when she saw a couple dozen other young men walk over to the car and do the unthinkable.

"They pulled him out of the car and pushed him down and continued to kick him and beat him and just smash his head down in the cement," Harris said. "I couldn't do anything to help him. I couldn't get out of my car for fear, but I just couldn't leave him there alone. I couldn't leave him. I was constantly blowing my horn thinking that maybe it would scatter them and they would leave him alone. I called 911 immediately."

Harris can be heard on the tape frantically talking to the 911 operator.

Harris: "They're gonna kill this man."

Dispatcher: "Stop hollerin' so I can hear you."

Harris: "They're pulling him out of the car."

Sixteen people called 911 but the help that came first was a man in a pickup truck, who was in the right place at the right time.

"The next thing I saw was this gentleman that had been beaten running in front of his truck and this guy was telling him to get in my truck," Harris said. "He jumped over the bed into the truck, and they were pulling at his leg trying to get him out of the truck and the gentleman just took off."

The Vance County Sheriff's Office is investigating. Deputies say they have leads but no suspects. Harris says it was too dark to see anything useful.

"I can't identify any of them," Harris said. "I told the officers that I saw him being beat, but as many people as were there, I couldn't identify anyone."

ABC11 spoke to Lozinicka on the phone. He has been released from the hospital but was not ready for an interview.

No charges were filed against him.

Wright suffered head and leg injuries and was flown to Duke University Hospital for treatment. His condition is not known.

Vance County sheriff's deputies say the suspects knew each other and had been together earlier at a party. Deputies are still investigating.

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