Church helps track driver after deadly hit-and-run in Lincoln County

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — Authorities said Friday that a 21-year-old Hickory man was arrested in a deadly hit-and-run, and a local church helped track them down. State highway patrol officials had been questioning Zachary Joseph Deal before they announced his arrest.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says 23-year-old Jacob Michael Bentley was killed in a crash Thursday on Business 321 near Summerow Road. Troopers said a Ford Taurus was going north, crossed over the center line and hit Bentley’s vehicle.

Highway patrol showed Channel 9′s Dave Faherty the broken pieces of the left front headlight assembly that led them to identify the suspect car as a Ford Taurus.

Faherty learned that a nearby Methodist church had surveillance cameras that captured a portion of the wreck.

“After about a 10-15 second pause after the collision, you can actually see the Taurus go south and go right past the collision itself,” Chris Casey with the NC Highway Patrol told Faherty. “Unfortunately he did not stop, and continued to go south.”

Debbie Richard attends McKendree Methodist Church, where her husband is the pastor. She was walking at the time of the accident and says she witnessed the crash.

“I usually walk every night,” she told Faherty.

She and her husband began praying for the 23-year-old who later died at the hospital.

Richard said she wishes the other driver had stopped.

“It really makes you mad, makes you angry to think that someone wouldn’t have a conscience like that, could leave the scene,” Richard said.

Troopers did say Bentley wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

Deal was charged with felony hit and run, failure to report an accident, and failure to render medical assistance. He is being held at the Lincoln County Detention Center under a $10,000 secured bond.

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