Tips lead to arrests in hit and run crashes

SANDTOWN — Anonymous tips from the public brought the identification and arrest of suspects involved in separate hit and run crashes, the Delaware State Police said Thursday.

Nathan W. Jester Jr., 35, of Felton, was charged in connection with a Tuesday incident that left a pedestrian dead on Willow Grove Road (Del. 10) east of Sandtown Road, authorities said.

Robert H. Eckeard, 29, of Hartly, was allegedly involved in a fatal collision with an Amish buggy and vehicle on Aug. 31 at the intersection of Halltown Road (Del. 8) and Hartly Road (Del. 44), according to police.

In announcing the arrests, authorities thanked the public for providing information through Delaware Crime Stoppers. Detectives also received calls with tips.

There have been 274 hit and run crashes reported in Kent County so far this year, and likely more that police are unaware of due to fleeing motorists.

“We have no way of statistically proving that most motorists stop as there may be some incidents that motorists may have struck something (i.e. animal, road signs, etc.) that go unreported,” spokesman Master Cpl. Gary E. Fournier said.

After being arrested at his residence Wednesday, Mr. Jester was taken to Troop 3 in Woodside and charged with leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death and failure to report a collision resulting in death. He was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover and held at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in lieu of a $4,001 cash bond.

Nathan W. Jester Jr.

Police alleged that Mr. Jester was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt westbound when it hit a 35-year-old Felton man walking his dog on the roadway’s shoulder near his home at approximately 9:07 p.m. Roger L. Coberly Jr. was knocked into a ditch and the motorist drove away from the scene, according to police.

Kent County paramedics pronounced Mr. Coberly dead at the scene. His dog was uninjured and ran to the residence, police said.

Both arrestees were believed to be traveling alone at the time of the alleged crashes, police said.

Detectives took Mr. Eckeard into custody at his residence Wednesday was transported to Troop 3. Charges included leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death, failing to report a collision resulting in death, failure to show proof of insurance and expired tags. He was arraigned at JP Court 2 and held at JTVCC on a $7,002 cash bond.

According to police, investigation found that Mr. Eckeard was allegedly driving a 1997 Chevrolet Lumina eastbound at approximately 8:05 p.m. The vehicle hit a westbound horse-drawn carriage as it was attempting to turn into the Royal Farms at the intersection, police said.

Robert H. Eckeard

Both buggy rider and driver were thrown into the road as the vehicle continued on, police claimed.

Ervin D. Miller, 55, of Hartly was taken to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover where he was later pronounced dead. His wife was taken to the hospital, treated for injuries and released.

Both vehicles in the incidents were held by police as investigation continued.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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