BOONE — A 25-year-old man — who was flagging traffic — died on July 27 after he was struck by a driver the day before on U.S. 421, officials said.
The driver — Israel Alejandro Flores, 21 — allegedly fled the scene and was later arrested by the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, according to N.C. State Highway Patrol Trooper Z.L. Moose. Flores was brought back to the collision scene and then arrested and charged with felony hit and run and DWI. He was later given a felony death by vehicle charge after the traffic flagger had died.
Moose said he received a call at 3:06 a.m. on July 26 after a pedestrian had been hit by a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Brittian Stewart South, of both Mountain City, Tenn., and Deep Gap, was flagging traffic for paving road work being done by Maymead in the area of U.S. 421 near the N.C. 105 Bypass. Moose stated that Flores was traveling north on U.S. 421 — at an estimated speed of 45 mph — when he struck the flagger.
Moose said the flagger had a stop/yield sign and was wearing reflective gear.
NCSHP, Boone Fire, Watauga Medics and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Moose was unsure of the level of Flores’ blood alcohol content. A court document indicates that a blood sample from Flores was taken around 6 a.m. the day of the incident.
According to a search warrant document, the vehicle damage to the Jeep was consistent with that of having struck a standing person. The search warrant was for a residence at 3051 U.S. 421 N., Boone. Moose said Flores was being held on a $350,000 bond.
Moose stated that Flores had a Winston-Salem address; the N.C. State Board of Elections indicates that Flores is registered to vote in Watauga County — with a Boone address. Flores was a spring 2019 graduate of Appalachian State University, according to university spokesperson Megan Hayes.
South was flown to Johnson City Medical Center. He later died around 8:30 a.m. July 27, according to Moose.
South’s sister, Andrea Carlson, said she was notified of the incident around 4 a.m. July 26. When she contacted the hospital, her brother was in critical condition and medical professionals were waiting on test results. At the time South was suffering from two collapsed lungs and brain swelling.
“The doctor said (the brain trauma) was catastrophic and that only three other people that they knew of in the world had ever survived that,” Carlson said. “We were hoping that Brittian would be the fourth, but it didn’t happen that way.”
South had made the decision some time ago to be an organ donor. Carlson said seven to eight people are planned to benefit from South’s organ donation, and his family will later receive a letter about who received the organs. Carlson added that South’s family will also be able to meet the people who obtained her brother’s organs.
South loved playing music on his guitar, being outdoors and working on vehicles and motorcycles. Carlson said her brother was an outgoing and funny person who would give hugs to people and enjoyed making his friends happy.
“He’s always quick to help somebody if they needed help,” Carlson said.
A crowdsourcing website had been set up by South’s family to help provide money for transportation and lodging while he was in the hospital. Carlson said the money that had been raised so far had not yet been used, but will be helpful in the family’s travel to Tennessee to say “our last goodbyes.” The website can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/transportation-to-and-from-hospital.
Carlson said South’s family members were grateful for the community’s outpouring of prayers, donations and kind words.