Former lifeguard gets 75 days for fatal hit-and-run of student

By on February 8, 2018

Memorial along N.C. 12. Zahariev’s death jump started construction of the multi-use path. (Phyllis Cole)

A former Corolla lifeguard will spend the next two and one-half months in jail after pleading guilty to fatally striking a pedestrian with his vehicle on N.C. 12 in Corolla in 2014.

Peter Thomas Luke, 41, who now resides in Wilmington, began serving 75 days in the Currituck Detention Center this week after his guilty plea to misdemeanor counts of death by vehicle and hit and run.

Asen Zahariev, 21, of Bulgaria was walking home the night of August 25, 2014, in the same direction as northbound traffic when he was hit by the SUV.

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The Highway Patrol said his body was thrown 30 feet from the point of impact near the Harris Teeter supermarket where he worked.

Zahariev

The next day, Luke came to the fire station in Corolla and reported he thought he had struck a deer sometime around midnight with his SUV, according to the Highway Patrol.

Upon further investigation, the damage to the vehicle was found to be consistent with injuries suffered by the victim.

Luke, who was a lieutenant lifeguard with Corolla Ocean Rescue at the time, was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run causing serious injury or death.

Zahariev’s death prompted Currituck County officials to fast track construction of additional walking and bike paths alongside N.C. 12.

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A Pennsylvania couple was killed the summer before by a vehicle that ran off N.C. 12 a few miles north of where Zahariev died.

The Daily Advance reported Luke was tried last month, but problems with having DNA evidence available at the time forced prosecutors to offer a plea agreement.

Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett suspended a 45-day sentence for the misdemeanor hit and run charge, and ordered Luke to serve two years of supervised probation, as directed by state sentencing guidelines.

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Luke was also ordered to pay fines and court costs of $2,500 and restitution of $2,600 for work done by the state crime lab, and will not be able to obtain a driver license until his probation is complete.

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