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Driver who hit and killed bicyclist is charged only for leaving scene

 Yuwel Edwards
Yuwel Edwards (KY3)
Published: Sep. 8, 2016 at 6:47 PM CDT
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A man who police say admitted hitting a bicyclist with his vehicle three months ago now is charged with leaving the scene of the accident.

The bicyclist died at a hospital but Yuwel Edwards, 23, is not charged with his death because police haven’t determined that he did anything criminal to cause the crash.

The hit-and-run crash was shortly after 11 p.m. on June 10 on Kearney Street near Baptist Bible College. Jesse Beach, 28, was the bicyclist who died a few days later after his family arranged for the donation of his organs and had him taken off life support systems.

Here’s the

edited probable cause statement

written by a detective that is the basis of the charge against Edwards:

Witness information was obtained by Officer S. Martin indicating a white color SUV to be involved in this accident. Officer S. Martin spoke with a witness. She said a white older Ford Expedition or Explorer with tinted windows nearly struck her vehicle near the intersection of Kearney and Bolivar Road.

Officer D. Rowles was able to watch video footage from Baptist Bible College, 628 E. Kearney, and gained information which gave him a description for this Ford SUV. The only motor vehicle involved in this crash is the white Ford SUV according to Officer D. Rowles (DSN 1555). Officer D. Rowles advised the age of the vehicle was either late 1990s or early 2000 Ford Explorer or Expedition.

A 9-1-1 call led police officers to a 2000 Ford Explorer. The unknown 911 caller told dispatchers that someone was wiping/cleaning the front of this white 2000 Ford Explorer.

When Officer J. Miller (DSN 1576) arrived on scene, he began to photograph the vehicle and found the vehicle to have damage on the front bumper, hood and windshield. The vehicle was towed from 2100 N. Clifton (John B. Hughes Apartments) to the compound garage of the Springfield Police Department. The doors were sealed up with evidence tape by Officer J. Miller.

I examined a Shimano bicycle that Jesse Beach was seen riding on June 10 as well as the towed Ford Explorer. Upon examination of the front of the 2000 Ford Explorer, I was able to see damage under the front grill. Damage was found on the passenger side front of the vehicle near the headlight.

Damage on the passenger front bumper consisted of tire tread marks, a missing fog lamp housing and a small hole in the front vehicle body above the bumper. The hole was splintered and had paint transfer. The paint transfer was red.

I examined the Shimano bicycle and found it red. This red color was the same color as the paint transfer for the hole in the front body of the 2000 Ford Explorer. I further examined the Shimano bicycle and found the seat tightening screw to have a small piece of fiberglass stuck in the tightening nut.

The piece of fiberglass was white. Around the tightening nut was a white powdery substance that was the same white as the 2000 Ford Explorer. The height for the fiberglass piece found in the rear seat adjustment nut and height of the hole with red paint transfer in the front bumper of the 2000 Ford Explorer appear to be similar.

I spoke with several witnesses to this crash and found two witnesses that were nearly struck by this 2000 Ford Explorer before the collision with Beach. Witnesses (CC) and (AA) were riding in a passenger vehicle eastbound on Kearney when they were nearly struck several times by the Ford Explorer.

According to Officer S. Martin’s report, "CC stated she turned eastbound from Kansas Expressway onto Kearney when she observed a older white Ford Expedition or Explorer with tinted windows turn eastbound onto Kearney from Bolivar near Walgreens. CC said the white SUV almost collided into her vehicle then took off at a high rate of speed to get in front of her. CC told me she could see the driver of the vehicle and described him as a skinny black man.

“CC said she remained behind the SUV as they both traveled eastbound on Kearney. CC told me both the SUV and her vehicle were in the outside lane when she observed a bicyclist riding eastbound on Kearney swerving between both the inside and outside lanes in front of the SUV near 628 E. Kearney. CC said the SUV moved to the inside lane at one point to try and pass the bicyclist then moved back to the outside lane as the bicyclist moved towards the middle of Kearney.

“CC stated the SUV accelerated in what she thought was an attempt to pass the bicyclist from the outside lane. CC told me the bicyclist swerved back into the outside lane when the SUV collided into the rear of the bicycle. CC advised the SUV never slowed down and continued eastbound on Kearney after the crash.

“I spoke with AA away from CC. AA provided a similar statement to CC. AA added that she observed the SUV turn southbound onto Summit from Kearney after the crash. AA advised the driver of the SUV was a black man but could not provide further information on the driver or SUV.”

When I interviewed AA and CC, they provided the same details as stated above. AA and CC where shown a photo lineup with Yuwel Edwards's Department of Revenue photo. CC and AA were unable to identify Edwards as the driver of the Ford Explorer.

I spoke with two other witnesses identified as JR and ZB over the phone. Both JR and ZB are related to Beach and saw the accident when it took place. According to ZB's statement to me over the phone, he was driving a vehicle and JR was in the passenger seat as they were eastbound on Kearney. As they were driving on Kearney he saw Beach riding a bicycle going westbound on Kearney. ZB identified Beach as his cousin.

ZB said Beach was in the center lane when Beach saw ZB. ZB said Beach turned around to go back eastbound again. ZB said Beach was clipped by another vehicle but ZB was not sure of the style of vehicle that hit Beach.

JR indicated the same story as ZB but said she was driving ZB in a vehicle when the accident took place. JR told me during her phone interview that she saw the crash between a white SUV and Beach in the rearview mirror of her vehicle. She pulled over and had ZB take her car home while she tried to get Beach some help.

LH is the owner for this 2000 Ford Explorer. LH consented to an interview which took place at the South District Station on 07/14/2016. LH admitted during the interview that she spoke with Edwards about this accident. LH spoke with Edwards about this accident on 06/12/2016 around 1 p.m. Edwards was crying when speaking with LH. Edwards admitted to LH that he was not trying to hit the man while he was driving her vehicle.

Yuwel Edwards consented to an interview on 07/18/2016 at the South District Station. Yuwel admitted to being involved in the crash. Edwards told me during an interview that he was driving a white Ford Explorer that belongs to LH. Edwards admitted to driving LH's 2000 Ford Explorer east on Kearney near BBC.

Edwards saw Beach riding a bicycle. Edwards said he was driving the Ford Explorer in the right lane going eastbound on Kearney. He said Beach was also riding eastbound on Kearney in the right lane.

Edwards said Beach was swerving back and forth in the right lane and Edwards went to pass Beach in the left lane. Edwards said Beach swerved over into the left lane at the same time. Edwards attempted to pass Beach again by moving over into the right hand lane of eastbound Kearney. Beach again moved to the right and Edwards collided with Beach in the middle of the left and right lanes of eastbound Kearney. Edwards said Beach was thrown off the bicycle.

Edwards admitted to making a right turn onto Summit and left the scene of the accident. Edwards told me he left the scene of the accident due to fear of hitting Beach. Edwards admitted to not wanting to tell anybody about the accident.

Edwards also did not place a 9-1-1 call to let police and dispatch know about the accident. Edwards admitted going back to where he parked the SUV the next morning to wipe down the hood of the Ford Explorer so nobody would know the vehicle was involved an accident. Edwards said he used an old towel or shirt to wipe down the hood of the vehicle.

There was damage to the lower driver side portion of the front windshield of the Ford Explorer. Edwards said that damage was from the accident.

End of edited probable cause statement

Edwards could face a prison sentence as long as four years if he’s convicted of leaving the scene of an accident. Prosecutors asked for a $25,000 bond when they filed the charge on Tuesday.