At about 10:30 last night (November 4), the North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to a fatal hit-and-run collision in Catawba County on N.C. Highway 127 near Zion Church Road. The initial investigation indicates that a 2008 Ford F150 ran out of fuel and became disabled in the center turn lane near U.S. 321. The driver left the vehicle and was walking in the travel lanes when he was struck by a southbound passenger vehicle. The car fled the scene and continued traveling south on N.C. 127. The pedestrian, 56-year-old Tony Allen Maltba of Creston, passed away at the scene.
The suspect vehicle, a 2002 Saturn, was found about two hours later behind a residence several miles away. Troopers seized the vehicle as evidence. The suspect, 31-year-old Robert Mitchell Lester of Hickory, was found several hours later. He was charged with driving while impaired. Additional charges are pending.