Chapel Hill hit-and-run victims buried as investigators search for clues

tgrubb@newsobserver.comSeptember 27, 2013 

— Vicki Rhine wants to plant a tree when she buries her daughter Alexandra Simou.

It might be in a spot along the Haw River, where Simou often would go, or in Maggie Valley, N.C., which is closer to her family, Rhine said.

Simou, 40, lived in Carrboro. She loved being outdoors, and she loved animals, her mother said.

“She was free-spirited, for sure,” Rhine said.

N.C. Highway Patrol investigators are still searching for a driver who killed Simou and fellow Carrboro resident Ivin Levander Scurlock, 41, in a hit-and-run Sept. 19 on U.S. 15-501. The pair was hit from behind as they were bicycling south of Southern Village, just outside the town limits.

Scurlock died at the scene. Simou was taken to UNC Hospitals, where she died two days later.

A Patrol re-enactment team returned to the scene Wednesday with a helicopter and photographer to get shots of the crime scene. The information will be used to build a case when they catch the person responsible, Trooper Matt Morrison said.

He spent the last week chasing leads from as far away as Johnston County but doesn’t have a lot of information yet, Morrison said. Troopers still have a few calls to check out, he said.

Troopers think a smaller car hit the pair and should have front-end and windshield damage, based on evidence found at the scene, he said. No one reported seeing the accident, and troopers have no description of the car they are trying to find.

Neither cyclist was wearing a helmet, but Scurlock was wearing a reflective vest, and they had lights on their bicycles, witnesses said.

Pittsboro resident Aimée Argote and her friend Taylor Holenbeck arrived on the scene shortly after the crash. They sat with Simou, who was barely conscious, in the middle of U.S. 15-501 until the EMS crew took her away.

Later, on Facebook, Argote posted how their lives were changed forever by the experience. You don’t leave people to die like that, she wrote, before asking everyone to think before getting behind the wheel:

“Because nobody who’s texting and driving, drinking and driving, driving while exhausted – whatever the vice may be – NOBODY sets out in their car looking to kill another living being that day. But you are not above it. None of us is. And I can promise you today, as we continue to wade through this grief: it is never worth it.”

Rhine said Simou loved Carrboro. She ran a Chatham County pet grooming business for about five years before losing her way, Rhine said.

For several years, Simou had been searching for something, Rhine said. She made some bad decisions and got involved with the wrong people. When she was killed, she was living in an abandoned house in the woods. And true to her independent spirit, she was trying to find her own way out, Rhine said.

“But she wasn’t unhappy,” Rhine said. “She didn’t care about things that much.”

Friends said they often saw Simou riding her bicycle around town and hanging out with Scurlock, a Chatham County native who attended Northwood High School.

Scurlock’s family did not respond to interview requests. A two-day service was held last week at Knotts Funeral Home in Chapel Hill. Simou’s funeral service was still being planned.

Simou also is survived by her brother George and a half-sister Sofia.

The Highway Patrol asked that anyone with information that could help the investigation contact the Hillsborough Highway Patrol station at 919-732-2551 or the Raleigh Highway Patrol Communication Center at 919-733-3861.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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