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Hit-and-run investigation comes to a close

Cheyenne Sharp, a USA freshman, pictured with her boyfriend and USA student Nick Hacker before her hit-and-run incident. Photo courtesy
of Ginny Reynolds Duron

Cheyenne Sharp, a USA freshman, pictured with her boyfriend and USA student Nick Hacker before her hit-and-run incident. Photo courtesy of Ginny Reynolds Duron

Cheyenne Sharp, a USA freshman, pictured with her boyfriend and USA student Nick Hacker before her hit-and-run incident. Photo courtesy of Ginny Reynolds Duron

Richard Narramore, Assistant Managing Editor

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USA Police identified the make and model of the vehicle that struck and injured University of South Alabama freshman Cheyenne Elizabeth Sharp in a hit-and-run incident on Sunday, Oct. 22 outside the University’s Delta 5 residence hall, according to Bob Lowry, director of communication and media relations at USA. A car matching the same description was involved in a single-vehicle crash that took the life of the driver, USA student Shandi Kristin Jones later in the day, on Oct. 22, Lowry stated.

The families of Sharp and Jones had no comment.

“We put out the facts and we’ve told both of them [Jones and Sharp’s families], and certainly there is no win for anybody involved there,” USA Police Chief Zeke Aull said. “I do think the police work was good and that when you put it all together we have reached the right conclusion. But, there is no criminal charge that will be able to go forward. Normally if you hit someone and left the scene then we’d arrest you for that because it’s a crime, but, there is no person to charge now and therefore no crime.”

The USA Police investigation included reviewing hours of video from surveillance cameras on campus, interviews with witnesses and information shared confidentially through the USA Police Department’s Silent Witness Program, according to Lowry.

USA Police did not have much information at the beginning of their initial investigation.

“There was not a whole lot of information at the time,” Aull said. “We had a witness that thought they saw something and thought they could help us with a possible ID on the car, but our information was very limited and the chances, we thought at that time, at solving the case were extremely low. Little by little, you do what you do to try and investigate the case.”

USA Police began by sifting through hours of surveillance camera footage and eventually noticed something suspicious recorded by a camera in the Epsilon area, close to where  Sharp was struck, according to Aull.

“We have over 700 cameras on campus, none of which caught the accident,” Aull said. “My detectives started investigating and looking at video and in all that time frame we saw a couple of cars pass near in front of the Epsilon area, one of which was moving quickly. You see some cars driving by at normal speed, but one particularly catches our attention. It looks likes it’s fleeing the scene and that caught our attention.”

USA Police showed the camera footage to Sharp and a witness to the hit-and-run and both agreed that the car appeared familiar.

Things started to line up and fall into place after USA Police received an anonymous tip through the Silent Witness Program.

“We had someone tell us ‘we believe the individual who died in a one-car accident that  same day shortly after your incident was the person who struck your student,’ but we hadn’t put that together yet,” Aull said. “Later that same evening, we were notified that one of our students was involved in a fatal car accident. But, there was no reason for us to believe there was any connection.”

USA Police followed up on the lead and began to piece together similarities and a timeline, according to Aull.

“Same kind of car, same everything. We time it, how long it takes to get from here to where the fatal car accident occurred and it all starts to match up. So at that point in time we were pretty confident that based on all these circumstances and believe we had found the car and the driver of that vehicle was the person who struck our student. There’s not that smoking gun so to speak, because the other party is deceased. But everything points in that direction.”

USA Police are still waiting for the toxicology report on Jones, which could take up to three months, according to Aull.

Aull explained that they shared the steps USA Police took in solving Sharp’s hit-and-run case and with Sharp’s family and that for now, there was not any additional information.

While happy to bring the case to a close, Aull also expressed grief for both Sharp’s and Jones’ family.

“This is good police work, but we are not happy about it,” Aull said. “This is not a winning situation for anybody. We have people in our community who are mourning the loss of a child and mourning the loss of a classmate and a student. We also have Cheyenne and she is still part of our community and we are ecstatic that she is going to recover and continue to be Jaguar. Your balancing both parts, you have both parties who are a part of your community, and we are completely joyous that Cheyenne is going to be okay, because that could have been a lot worse and she is very fortunate. But on the other hand, you have a mom and a dad who buried their student two weeks ago.”

The University Silent Witness Program allows members of the USA community to provide information about crimes and guarantees total anonymity. Information submitted through the program is confidential and no personal information is collected. Crimes reported are reviewed and investigated by the officers and staff of USA Police Department. Tips can be submitted to the Silent Witness Program at

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Hit-and-run investigation comes to a close