Cyclist knows driver accused of Decatur hit-and-runW. Ponce De Leon Avenue. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
This story has been updated.
A cyclist who was the victim of a Feb. 2 hit-and-run in Decatur knows the man who allegedly hit him.
The two were actually both at Trackside Tavern in Decatur before the incident. Wesley Upshur works in the kitchen at Trackside. Decatur Police said that Zachary Thigpen surrendered himself to police on Feb. 9, accompanied by his attorney. Thigpen, who works as the head chef at the Marlay House in Decatur, did not return messages seeking comment.
Thigpen faces three misdemeanor charges: hit-and-run/leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident and failure to maintain a safe distance.
Upshur said Thigpen called him to apologize the day before he turned himself in to police.
“He said, ‘This is really eating me up, so if you can forgive me, I’m turning myself tomorrow,'” Upshur said, recalling the conversation.
Upshur said both he and Thigpen were hanging out after hours at Trackside before the incident. Upshur said he considers Thigpen to be a friend.
“We were chilling,” he said. “I was bouncing between groups of people. I left a couple of minutes before he did.”
Police responded to the call at 3:14 am.
According to the police report, Thigpen was driving his Nissan Sentra behind Upshur, who was on his bike. Both were traveling east near the intersection of East College Avenue and Sams Street.
Police allege Thigpen was following Upshur too closely and hit the tire of his bike with the Sentra’s front bumper, sending Upshur flying onto the asphalt. Thigpen allegedly left the scene prior to police arriving. Dept. Chief Keith Lee said investigators were able to identify Thigpen’s vehicle from broken fragments of the bumper that were left at the scene.
An ambulance transported Upshur to Grady Hospital for what were later deemed to be non-life threatening injuries. He said he had a knot on his head, his back is still sore and there’s tightness in his left leg.
Upshur said he had no idea the person who allegedly hit him was someone he knew until Thigpen called asking for forgiveness.
Did he forgive him?
“Yeah, I respect him for … telling me after the fact,” Upshur said. “But I don’t know. Shit was f$#!ed up.”