Hit-and-run victim found underneath guardrail by DOT work crew

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comAugust 15, 2013 

— Weston Vandemerwe’s friends say he would sometimes wander off for awhile after drinking too much alcohol, but the habit proved fatal when he walked away Friday night after imbibing at a downtown Raleigh bar and having a spat with his girlfriend.

Two state transportation workers happened upon the 23-year-old Apex man’s body Tuesday afternoon while spraying guardrails and dialed 911 to report his death.

Investigators think Vandemerwe was the victim of a hit-and-run, but they have not disclosed what evidence was collected from the scene or from his body, nor have they made public a description of the make and model of the vehicle that might have been involved in the crash.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue declined to say when investigators think the deadly crash occurred, but one of the transportation workers told a 911 dispatcher that Vandemerwe’s body was decomposed, according to a copy of the 911 recording made public Wednesday.

“It’s been there for quite some time,” the worker told the dispatcher. “It looks pretty bad.”

Becky Daly reported her son missing to the police over the weekend. The man’s family and friends had been worried about him since early Saturday at about 1:30 a.m., when he was last seen outside the Oxford Bar on Fayetteville Street.

He and his girlfriend, Kaitlyn Holmes, argued at the bar that night, but “it didn’t seem like that big of a fight,” she said. Holmes said she got in a cab to go home, but Vandemerwe walked away.

On Tuesday, the state employees found Vandemerwe’s body underneath a guardrail they were set to spray-paint near the Hammond-Person roads exit, about 2 miles from the Oxford Bar, according to the 911 recording.

“I’m almost positive somebody is lying here dead,” one of the workers told the dispatcher.

Vandemerwe graduated last year from ECU and worked for an insurance company, according to his friends.

Emergency workers transported Vandemerwe’s remains to the state medical examiner’s office in Raleigh for an autopsy. State pathologists have not yet determined a cause of death, spokeswoman Sharon Artis said Wednesday afternoon.

The police investigation continues. Anyone with information that might assist with the investigation should call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-4357 or visit www.raleighcrimestoppers.org for text and email reporting options.

Staff writer Caitlin Owens contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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