Hopewell alum dies in hit and run
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Kevin Sweet went to the Rusty Rudder off Catawba Avenue for a night of fun with friends Friday, June 15. Hours later and just a few blocks away he was struck by a pickup truck and killed, leaving questions unanswered.
The 22-year-old Cornelius resident and graduate of Hopewell High School was pronounced dead on the scene around 2 a.m., soon after police and paramedics arrived at the intersection of Bethel Church Road and Madison Manor Drive in Cornelius.
A trail of skid marks led from the restaurant and bar where Sweet spent the final hours of his life, through the right-hand turn onto Bethel Church Road, ending at the intersection where the incident came to a head.
Police say that Sweet was not in a vehicle when the crash occurred, but was standing in the road. Witnesses report that he had exited the charcoal gray pickup truck he was riding in with three others, but the reason remains unclear.
Those riding with Sweet described the suspected vehicle involved to Cornelius police. Officers tracked down the suspects within minutes in the Sawyer’s Landing neighborhood, not far from the scene.
Officials say two men from Winston-Salem were arrested. Driver Jacob Andrew Kost, 23, was charged with murder, felony hit and run, driving while impaired and driving with a revoked license. Passenger, 21-year-old Jason Edward Shaw, was charged with accessory to murder.
And while friends and neighbors seek answers, as of Tuesday, officials remained tight-lipped on their investigation.
“It’s a serious issue and the investigation is continuing,” Betsy Shores of the Cornelius Police Department said.
By noon Saturday flowers and mourners lined the roadside near the scene as word of Sweet’s death spread among friends and those living in the neighborhoods where the incident occurred.
Spray paint marked the spot where investigators found the gray truck in which Sweet had been riding. To the left a long trail of black rubber was burned on to the pavement leading to a spot where residents living nearby say the red truck driven by Kost struck Sweet.
Sweet graduated from Hopewell High in 2008. He attended East Carolina University and worked for Action Cleanup and Restoration.
Harlan Cato came across the scene on his way home.
“Two female friends were crying nearby with a male friend on his knees leaning over the victim, talking to him, with his right forearm and hand under his head,” Cato said. “For those I met early (that) morning and for those I didn’t, it is sad to know that he, and everyone involved, will have some very sorrowful friends, family and times ahead.”
Neighbor Joey Portnova stood on the side of the road, looking at the skid marks and remembering the friend with whom he attended high school.
“He was a really nice guy,” Portnova said, solemnly. “And with a good sense of humor. Real funny.”