CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A driver is facing DWI charges after fatally hitting a woman in Charlotte’s South End Sunday evening, according to police.
Investigators say Gregory Alan Wheeling, 30, was driving an Audi on South Boulevard near Remount Road around 5 p.m. when 28-year-old Kelli Sue Putnam, who was walking along the sidewalk, stepped in front of the car and was hit.
A woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she ran to Putnam’s side just moments after the accident.
“I bent down and felt a slight pulse and could tell she was somewhat breathing, so I held her hand,” she said.
The woman says she tried to encourage the stranger.
“I didn’t know her name, but I guess, the mother instinct in me, I started calling her baby girl,” she said.
The woman says she only reached out to WBTV in an attempt to get a message to Putnam’s loved ones.
“Just to let her parents know that I was with her and I was holding her and she was surrounded by people she didn’t know. But that cared enough to stop,” she said.
Medic pronounced Putnam dead on scene. Putnam worked at Mac’s Speed Shop and will be greatly missed, Mac’s Speed Shop says:
“The entire Mac’s Speed Shop family is devastated by the loss of Kelli Putnam, who made a tremendous impact on us all. We feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to know her as a friend and valuable member of our team. Kelli will be greatly missed by all of us.”
The owner of Mac’s said Putnam was in their commercial, posted on YouTube.
Jessica Ingalls, who said she and Putnam became best friends as teenagers in New York, came to mourn at the site where Putnam died. Ingalls said Putnam was “witty, fun, loyal and real.” She said they had an incredible connection as best friends and always had each other’s back.
Ingalls said she wants to see the accused driver get justice. WBTV has learned that Sunday night was not Wheeling’s first DWI arrest. CMPD confirms he was arrested for DWI in 2009, but because court offices are closed for the holiday, the specifics of the charge are unknown.
Wheeling is charged with DWI and aggravated felony death by vehicle. Police say four passengers were in the car with Wheeling. Wheeling and the passengers were not injured.
Speed and alcohol were factors in the crash.
The anonymous woman says she saw the vehicle speeding before it crashed.
“Probably around the South End area, this black Audi just flew by us and my brother’s friend made a comment, my gosh, I can’t believe he’s driving that fast,” she said.
Wheeling appeared in court Tuesday afternoon.
Putnam’s family has created a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs. Some of the money will also be donated to charities that held a special place in Putnam’s heart.
Any witnesses are asked to call detectives at 704-336-3229.
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