Man driving rental car fatally strikes bicyclist, police say

Driver says he didn't stop because he thought he hit curb

SOUTH DAYTONA, Fla. – Parts from a damaged rental car involved in a hit-and-run crash that left a bicyclist dead helped authorities track down the driver, according to the South Daytona Police Department.

An officer who was driving by Ridgewood Avenue around 2:48 a.m. Saturday noticed a bicycle with its headlight on in the median and stopped to find car parts scattered in the road and a man in the grass who was seriously injured, the arrest report said. The victim, Sterling Wright, died on his way to the hospital.

Police said they collected the car parts that were scattered nearby and concluded that they came from a vehicle that hit the bicyclist.

With the help of area mechanics, police determined that the parts belonged to a gray 2015-2017 Hyundai Sonata. Authorities contacted local rental car agencies and asked them to be on the lookout for a similar vehicle being returned with extensive front-end damage.

Enterprise Rental on Mason Avenue called police Tuesday afternoon and said a man was trying to return a Hyundai Sonata with front-end damage. 

The man, Eugene Carwise, told police that he was driving the car home from a club in Holly Hill early Saturday morning when he thought he hit a curb, but did not stop, according to the arrest report.

Carwise, 37, noticed the damage later that day and called his insurance company to report it.

When police examined the vehicle, they found chunks of hair in the headlight assembly and damage to the windshield that was consistent with a human head striking it, police said.

Carwise was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death.

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