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Raleigh driver charged with hitting, killing motorcyclist faces more than 23 years in prison

Kiera Jo Sprouse, charged with felony death by motor vehicle and hit and run, made her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon before District Judge Keith Gregory.
Kiera Jo Sprouse, charged with felony death by motor vehicle and hit and run, made her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon before District Judge Keith Gregory. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Wake County District Court Judge Keith Gregory told Kiera Jo Sprouse that she could spend more than 23 years in prison if she is convicted of felony death by motor vehicle and felony hit and run.

Sprouse was driving an estimated 113 mph when she hit the back of a motorcycle on the Beltline at Glenwood Avenue early Monday, killing the rider, according to Raleigh police. She was arrested at her home in Brier Creek about 3 1/2 hours after the collision, which took place about 12:20 a.m., police said.

Police said Sprouse was driving while impaired, but prosecutor Jason Waller withheld the DWI and other charges against Sprouse when she made her first court appearance Tuesday.

Waller said the charges against Sprouse could be upgraded after police complete their investigation. He also said Sprouse has a pending DWI charge in Pitt County and “an alcohol-related conviction out of New York.”

Police said Sprouse was headed westbound on the Beltline in a Ford car when she hit Thomas John Anstey, 50, of Cary, who was riding his 2003 Honda motorcycle about 60 mph.

A witness, Aaron McCrae Evans of Raleigh, told police that he was traveling in the eastbound lanes of the Beltline when he noticed sparks in the westbound lanes. Evans said he thought a motorist had blown a tire, but the sparks “got bigger and bigger.

“I couldn’t see the bike at first until it moved in front of the headlights of the car that struck it,” he said.

Evans and his friends got out of their car. They did not see Antsey, but they did see a woman who was driving the white car that had hit the motorcycle and saw a man who had stopped a red car about 15 yards behind the Ford.

Evans said the woman and the man both told him the motorcyclist had already left.

“I thought he was probably drunk, got up and fled the scene,” Evans said Tuesday night. “He probably had road rash, but was okay.”

Police find car abandoned

Evans was still on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, who asked to speak with the woman. “She did not want to talk with them,” he said.

Evans said the woman and the driver of the red car were still at the scene when he left after hearing the approaching sirens.

When they arrived, police found Sprouse’s car abandoned on the Beltline, said spokesman Jim Sughrue. It’s not clear how she got from the highway to her home in Brier Creek.

“We believed she remained at the scene for a short period of time and interacted with people who were there,” Sughrue said late Tuesday.

Evans did not know Antsey had died until police contacted him later Monday. He realized the woman he was talking to at the accident scene was Sprouse when he saw television news accounts of her arrest.

Sprouse’s roommate, Katie Hughes, said they worked together as bartenders in Pitt County and in Raleigh. A manager at the Carolina Ale House on Falls of the Neuse Road confirmed that Sprouse worked there but declined further comment.

Sprouse is scheduled to appear in a Pitt County court on March 16 to face earlier charges of driving while impaired and driving while license revoked.

“It’s apparent,” Hughes said when asked if Sprouse has a drinking problem.

“She’s a great friend who made a horrible mistake,” Hughes said after Sprouse’s court appearance Tuesday. “She’s sorry for that. She’s a young girl trying to make her way in this world.”

Hughes said the two of them moved to the Triangle over the summer from Greenville.

“She’s a great, great friend,” Hughes said. “This has devastated her and devastated her family. It’s very sad.”

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