Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Downtown hit-and-run victim: Suspect tried to discard evidence, WPD investigating if drinking involved

Downtown bartender Justin Sartain revealed details of the ongoing investigation, including video evidence of the driver saying she "hit a bum," attempts by the driver to dispose of evidence, and current WPD efforts to determine whether alcohol was involved.

Justin Sartain at his home on Dock Street in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Justin Sartain at his home on Dock Street in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — On a Saturday night in late February, bartender Justin Sartain was on his way to work at the Bourbon Street Cafe when he walked across the intersection of Third and Dock Street.

At this point a car “struck him, ejecting him into the air onto the top of the vehicle,” according to Wilmington Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Dandron, via a February 26 statement.

“The victim rolled off the car and into the street. As the victim was laying in the street, the suspect vehicle fled the scene, running over the victim, shattering his foot and ankle,” Dandron wrote.

Last Wednesday evening the WPD arrested Hampstead resident Alyssa Marie Angus and charged her with a hit and run, failure to yield, and assault with a deadly weapon, each causing serious injury.

Details of the investigation

On Friday, Sartain recalled details of the still ongoing investigation, as told to him by the WPD investigator leading the case — the “’Rainman’ of hit and runs,” Surtain said, who had spent the last 24 years in that specific field. Dandron confirmed that the WPD updated Surtain on the status and details of the investigation.

According to Sartain, the officer used surveillance footage to determine that Angus bought cigarettes at a nearby gas station before returning to the scene of the accident, where Sartain was still lying on the ground. Angus then drove away and picked up her child at a babysitter’s residence.

After receiving a tip officers questioned Angus, who denied her involvement in the hit and run and said the tip came from a disgruntled ex-boyfriend. But the WPD obtained video evidence at a car dealership where Angus was formerly employed — where Sartain said she was getting her car fixed — that revealed her saying “she hit a bum downtown,” according to Sartain.

“Even after she hit me she went and bought a pack of cigarettes, then went and picked up her kid like nothing ever happened,” Sartain said. “It was very malicious. Whether you hit a bum or not — you hit a human being. She had no regard for the situation. She thought she got away Scot-free,” Sartain said.

Alyssa Marie Angus, 27, was arrested with a hit and run incident in which she allegedly struck and ran over a victim in downtown Wilmington while fleeing the scene. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Wilmington Police Department)
Alyssa Marie Angus, 27, was arrested with a hit and run incident in which she allegedly struck and ran over a victim in downtown Wilmington while fleeing the scene. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Wilmington Police Department)

The officer also told Sartain there was a man in the car’s passenger seat who was told by Angus to discard evidence found on the car: three of Sartain’s bottle openers stuck between the front hood and windshield.

During a second conversation with Angus, Sartain said the lead investigator told Angus he had gathered video evidence of her comments at the car dealership, and it was then she confessed to the hit and run. Warrants were then issued for her arrest on Wednesday.

According to Sartain, she also confessed to giving the bottle openers to the man who was in the passenger seat to dispose of the evidence. The man kept them in his possession, however, and later gave them to the lead arresting officer, Sartain said.

“The cop came by this [Friday] morning saying she will get charged with tampering with evidence,” Sartain said, after confirming the bottle openers were those in his bag that night.

On top of a potential charge of evidence tampering, Sartain said the WPD is also investigating whether Angus was drinking before the accident. According to Sartain, the man who gave up the bottle openers also revealed that he and Angus were drinking at several different downtown bars before the accident. He said the WPD is now gathering video surveillance evidence at the bars in question.

Dandron said that although she cannot divulge any details of the ongoing investigation, the department updated Sartain on the status of the case, including details of the investigation.

“WPD is currently consulting with the District Attorney’s office and more charges may be forthcoming,” Dandron said. “This was a team effort between the hit-and-run investigator, businesses, and citizens. The officer thoroughly investigated the case and followed every lead, which ultimately led to the arrest of Angus.”

Go Fund Me

Sartain said the top of his foot was crushed and a bone above his heel was broken; an appointment next week will determine if surgery is required.

He said the support he has received from the community was unexpected.

“When I got hit I just thought, ‘Alright, this is just another thing I have to do by myself.’ Then all-of-the-sudden, the community reached out,” Sartain said. “When it hit the news, people were stopping by — people I don’t even really know but I had served downtown …  This town’s like a big family, especially among bartenders and people in the service industry.

He said many well-wishers encouraged him to set up a Go Fund Me account to help raise money for medical and loss-of-work expenses. So far the fund has raised $945 — $150 of which came from employees at The Pour House.


Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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