Police said tips from motorists helped lead to the arrest of a Charlotte woman in a hit-and-run collision that left a bicyclist fighting for his life Thursday.
Jenna Esperanza Woodring, whose 25th birthday was Wednesday, was taken into custody, police said, after she was spotted driving on Interstate 485 on the other side of Charlotte and at least 30 miles from where the bicyclist was struck.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said paramedics rushed the 50-year-old bicyclist to Carolinas Medical Center. His injuries were described as life-threatening, and he underwent surgery Thursday. Police had not released his name.
Woodring is charged with driving while impaired, felony hit and run, and felony serious injury by a vehicle.
According to police, the bicyclist was struck in the 13900 block of Brown Grier Road off Steele Creek Road and near Kennedy Middle School in southwest Charlotte. Its the same street where at least two bicyclists have been hurt in collisions with motor vehicles in recent years, data show.
Thursdays crash was reported around 5:50 a.m. Police said witnesses gave officers a description of a vehicle seen fleeing the scene.
A short time later, police said, motorists called 911 and reported someone driving erratically on I-485 in eastern Mecklenburg County. Investigators said one motorist followed the driver to the ramp from I-485 to Rocky River Road. Thats when the N.C. Highway Patrol arrived and took the woman into custody.
Police said they found pieces of broken glass and other motor vehicle parts at the spot where the bicyclist was hit. Investigators blocked part of the street with crime-scene tape as they crouched in the road to examine evidence. The victims bicycle was in the grass, just off the road.
Witnesses told reporters that the vehicle stopped by state troopers on the I-485 ramp had damage to its front and windshield. Television footage showed a sedan with a shattered windshield partially collapsed on the vehicles right side.
The vehicle driven by Woodring was towed to be examined by investigators, police said. She remained in Mecklenburg jail Thursday night under a $52,000 bond.
In February, Woodring was charged with felony marijuana trafficking. WSOC-TV reported at the time that Woodring and a man were arrested when police found more than 30 marijuana plants in a south Charlotte home.
The trafficking charge is still pending.
Brown Grier Road has been the site of at least two recent wrecks involving motor vehicles and bicycles.
In 2007, a teenager was seriously injured when he was knocked from his bike after a driver failed to stop at a stop sign.
A second bicyclist suffered minor injuries after colliding with a car there last year. Reports list no contributing factors for that crash.
Vehicles hit 93 bicyclists on Charlotte streets and highways last year, down from a recent high of 107 in 2008, according to N.C. Department of Transportation data. Most bicyclists suffered minor injuries. Thirty-four had serious injuries, and 10 died between 2005 and 2011.
Investigators ask that anyone with information about Thursdays hit-and-run case contact detectives at 704-432-2169. Staff researcher Marion Paynter contributed.