The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 31, 2014

Arrest made in fatal hit-and-run

Fairmont man charged with felony in death of Raymond Michael

FAIRMONT — Fairmont City Police have arrested a man in connection with the fatal hit-and-run accident that took the life of Raymond Michael early Sunday morning.

Cole Valentine, 19, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death, a felony also known as Erin’s Law, named after Erin Keener.

Raymond Michael, 37, of Fairmont was struck by a silver Hyundai as he was walking along Route 250 South, before Muriale’s Restaurant around 2:27 a.m.

“We’re not sure if Mr. Michael was walking in the north- or southbound lane,” said Lt. Steve Shine of the Detective Division, Fairmont Police Department.

Valentine, the driver of that car, “voluntarily gave a statement of his actions after he learned of Michael’s death in news outlets,” according to a press release from the Detective Division of the Fairmont City Police.

“What is additionally sad about this case is that it appears there were at least four witnesses ... affiliated with Valentine ... who did not volunteer any information or assist in this investigation, even after it was published that a man was killed.”

The group had left the Goal Rush bar in Worthington around 2 a.m. and were on their way to Kingmont when the accident happened.

Police said Valentine was driving a friend’s 2013 Hyundai Elantra. The accident damaged the Elantra on the front left side and undercarriage. The car has been impounded.

Michel was pronounced dead at the scene. The release added that preliminary evidence indicated the vehicle had “passed over top of the victim.”

The accident was called in by a passerby, Shine he added.

Before the arrest had been made, Shine called the incident “an accidental collision ... with no malice or intent.”

“It was dark along the road and raining but not foggy. The weather conditions may definitely have contributed to the collision,” he said.

Michael, who was wearing dark clothing, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Surveillance footage was allegedly provided by Muriale’s Restaurant.

“We’re not even sure of the state of mind of the person who struck (Michael),” Shine said.

“He could have been drunk or inattentive. (Michael) could have been in the road. It’s hard to tell.”

He said an autopsy will be performed on Michael, including toxicology tests.

“It is believed that Michael had fallen or was laying in the roadway on Fairmont Avenue when he was struck by Valentine, who then left the scene without attempting to render any kind of aid,” a press release read.

Fairmont Police say the incident is still under investigation.

Anyone with more information is asked to call Fairmont City Police at 304-366-4200.

Email Debra Minor Wilson at dwilson@timeswv.com.

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