Bulgarian exchange student killed in OBX hit-and-run

Asen Zahariev (Photo courtesy a friend of the victim)

CURRITUCK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — A driver is behind bars in Currituck County Tuesday after causing a hit-and-run collision that killed a pedestrian Monday night.

Stretch of N.C. 12 where crash happened (WAVY/Liz Palka)
Stretch of N.C. 12 where crash happened (WAVY/Liz Palka)

The incident happened around 11 p.m., according to North Carolina Highway Patrol. A man was walking north along the shoulder of Highway 12 in Corolla when he was hit by a vehicle, that was also traveling north. The vehicle left the scene, and the pedestrian died from the injuries he suffered.

N.C. Highway Patrol said the victim is 22-year-old Asen Zahariev. Zahariev is an exchange student from Bulgaria.

WAVY.com spoke to other exchange students, who were friends with Zahariev. They said he was living and working in Corolla for the summer, scheduled to return home at the end of September. He worked at the local Harris Teeter and Dunkin Donuts. One friend said he was walking home from Harris Teeter when he was struck.

Several of his friends still work in the grocery story. A shopper, Marty Jackson, who is visiting the Outer Banks, said he could tell employees were upset about something on Wednesday. The employees told him about the crash and their friend’s death.

“They were really sad that this guy wasn’t going back home with them,” Jackson said.

Peter Luke, Jr. (Photos provided by the Currituck County Detention Center)
Peter Luke, Jr. (Photos provided by the Currituck County Detention Center)

Tuesday morning, around 8 a.m., the driver, 37-year-old Peter Luke, Jr., went to the fire department in Corolla. He told authorities he thought he hit a deer the night before, while driving alone in a 2000 Chevy Malibu.

Sheriff Susan Johnson with the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office said N.C. Highway Patrol troopers have charged Luke with a class F felony of hit and run, causing serious injury or death.

Trooper B.K. Wayne said Luke’s blood was sent to the SBI in Raleigh, N.C., and if he tests positive for any illegal drugs, he will receive additional charges.

Wayne said it is unknown if Luke was under the influence of anything at the time of the crash because of the time lapse between the time of the incident and the time he went to the fire department Tuesday morning.

Luke is being held in the Currituck County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

Currituck County officials released the following statement Thursday, in response to Zahariev’s death:

Currituck County expresses its sympathy to the family of Asen Zahariev for the loss of their son and to the Corolla community for the loss of its fellow resident and friend. Zahariev was killed in a vehicle-pedestrian accident in Corolla on August 25, 2014.

Recognizing public safety issues in Corolla, particularly as it relates to walking and cycling, the Currituck County Board of Commissioners adopted the Connecting Corolla Plan on October 21, 2013.  The County continues to work with its partner, NC Department of Transportation, on the design and permitting of a multi-use path along the State’s NC Highway 12 in accordance with this plan.

For more information regarding the Connecting Corolla Plan, please contact the Currituck County Department of Planning and Community Development, at (252) 232-3055.

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