South Carolina man charged in hit and run

CONYERS — A man accused of striking a stranded motorist and driving away turned himself in to authorities after he apparently concocted a cover story for the damage to his car.

Irving B. McMurtry Jr., 35, of Beaufort, S.C., was jailed Sunday and charged with failure to maintain lane, reckless driving, hit and run, and serious injuring by motor vehicle. Additional charges of false report of a crime and making false statements may also be filed.

McMurtry is accused of striking a Covington man whose car had broken down on the Salem Road entrance ramp to Interstate 20 westbound in the early morning hours of July 6. A Conyers Police Department officer on patrol found the victim at about 4 a.m. lying on the median wall about 30 feet from his car. His Toyota Corolla was at the bottom of the entrance ramp with the headlights on and the hood up. The officer estimated the victim had been there about 30 minutes before he was found.

The victim had a broken leg, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and other injuries. He was taken to an Atlanta area hospital by air ambulance.

Later that Sunday morning, McMurtry called the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office to report that someone had damaged his white 2002 Cadillac DTS that was parked on the street in front of a house where he was staying on Inverness Court in Rockdale County. McMurtry reportedly told the responding deputy that he had parked his car there between midnight and 12:10 a.m. and discovered the damage at about 7:30 a.m.

The deputy reported that the car had damage to the windshield, passenger side mirror, passenger side headlight and fog lamp, and front bumper. The car was also “severely scratched with an unknown object on both sides, (and) the front and rear hood… “

McMurtry’s neighbors who were questioned said they did not hear any noise during the night. One neighbor said she arrived home at 12:11 a.m. and did not see any vehicles parked on the roadside by her driveway.

The victim of the hit-and-run was unable to give police much information about the incident, according to CPD Public Information Officer Kim Lucas. Armed with pieces of the suspect’s vehicle, detectives went to a body shop to try to determine the make and model of the car. Detectives were able to narrow down the possibilities and issued a lookout Wednesday for an off-white Cadillac DTS between the model years 2000 and 2005. A description of the suspect vehicle and possible damage was distributed through multiple news and social media outlets.

Lucas said an insurance adjuster heard a news story about the lookout on the vehicle and contacted police saying that he had processed a claim on a vehicle in Conyers matching the description of the car.

Police impounded the vehicle and found that the “damage was consistent with the damage and paint transfer on (the victim’s) vehicle,” Lucas said.

McMurtry had gone back to South Carolina at the time the vehicle was impounded.

“Over a period of a couple of days he got word through his family that we were looking for him and had a warrant, and he turned himself in,” Lucas said.

According to Lucas the victim is now out of a medically induced coma and is slowly improving.

“We appreciate the outpouring of assistance from the community regarding this case,” said Police Chief Gene Wilson. “The information received in response to the social media and news media coverage was instrumental in identifying the man responsible.”