As the search for the hit-and-run driver who killed U.S. Marine Cpl. William Kyle Ferrell along U.S. 15 entered its fifth week, Ferrell’s family isn’t sitting back and waiting for results.
Savanah Frye, 17, is determined to promote awareness of her cousin’s case and help law enforcement in his home state of North Carolina. She made the centerpiece of her senior project a petition to pass a law to help catch hit-and-run drivers statewide.
Based on Maryland’s “Yellow Alert” law that went into effect Oct. 1, “Kyle’s Law” would set up a framework for police agencies across North Carolina to quickly spread the word about hit-and-run drivers. It would use road signs, phone apps, text alerts, local media and radio broadcasts, Frye said.
Ferrell, who was stationed at Camp David, pulled over on northbound U.S. 15 near Auburn Road during a heavy downpour around 11 p.m. Sept. 29 to help a disabled motorist, according to Maryland State Police. As Ferrell was helping the driver, a heavy-duty pickup truck with a dual-wheel axle struck and killed him. The driver stopped briefly, then drove away as other motorists stopped to help, police said.
Maryland’s law went into effect after Ferrell’s death.
Frye hopes her proposed law will not only net more tips for police searching for hit-and-run drivers in North Carolina, but also dissuade drivers from even considering fleeing the scene.
“They would know that everybody would be out there looking for them, not just the police,” Frye said. “The more it spreads and the more public it gets, then the more families it will help. It can prevent families from having to go through this, what we’ve been through.”
While Frye thinks her project will satisfy the requirements set out by her class at Middle Creek High School in Cary, North Carolina, the end goal is more ambitious than a good grade. Frye wants to effect lasting change through legislation, launching an online petition with the help of her mother, June Frye.
As of Tuesday evening, 670 supporters had added their names to an online petition that Savanah and June hope will galvanize local residents into action. The family has the ear of at least one of their state representatives.
“Aside from starting the petition directed to our governor, Patrick McCrory, Rep. Jamie Boles is taking a look at this as well, and we are hoping that he can help us get this into the right hands,” June Frye said.
As it turned out, Boles was an owner of the funeral home that planned Ferrell’s services, as well as a deputy majority whip in the North Carolina House of Representatives. After hearing about the young Marine’s death, Boles agreed to speak with Frye and the family.
“He says in the next session he’s going to bring it up,” Savanah Frye said. “It’s very exciting because there’s always so much doubt that something won’t happen or won’t work because, well, I’m just a teenager. But this gives our family a lot of hope ... and it can change a lot of lives if [the law] passes.”
Boles said he heard about Ferrell from his two sons, who went to school with the young Marine, as well as through local volunteer fire circles. Ferrell and Boles volunteered for neighboring fire stations in Carthage and Whispering Pines, respectively.
After hearing more, Boles was eager to look into Frye’s proposal.
“I’ve been here eight years, and I’ve chaired the justice, public safety and appropriations committee for the last six years, and this issue has not come up before, but it’s definitely worthy of investigating,” Boles said, adding that he plans to be more familiar with the law once the session begins April 25. “I will definitely look into it and would be honored to introduce it.”
In the meantime, Boles directed Savanah and June to the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program, as well as the public relations division for the state highway patrol, to drum up more support ahead of the coming legislative session.
Kyle’s Law was also seeing support from law enforcement, including one of Ferrell’s close friends, Moore County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Crumpler.
“We have so many hit-and-runs, and while it’s very seldom that you would have one as severe as Kyle’s, a lot of them go unsolved,” Crumpler said. “This law would help us solve a lot more of those cases by getting as much information about an incident to the public as quickly as possible.”
In the meantime, family members and police were hopeful that the ever-growing reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ferrell’s killer will help keep tips flowing in and the investigation alive.
As of Tuesday, the nonprofit Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland was offering up to $4,600 for tips, while the Maryland Troopers Association and a private, anonymous donor have each offered an additional $1,000, bringing the total reward amount to $6,600, said Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman.
“We certainly owe it to that young man to do all we can, as we would anyone, but certainly to that young man in light of his service,” Shipley said.
Tips may be called in to the Frederick barrack of the state police at 301-600-4151 or to the Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland at 866-756-2587. Calls are not recorded, and callers may remain anonymous.