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Police use detective work, witness photo to find suspect in Provo hit and run

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 7:23 p.m. MDT

Police investigate an unusual hit and run accident Tuesday in Provo. (, ) Police investigate an unusual hit and run accident Tuesday in Provo. (, )

PROVO — Police sleuthing and a cell phone photo taken by a witness led to the arrest of a woman involved in a hit and run accident Tuesday.

Police say a silver Dodge PT Cruiser struck a Honda Civic as it was stopped at the intersection of 300 South and State Street, then drove away. The driver of the Civic required medical treatment for head, neck and ankle pains.

Springville resident Kendra Nomiyama said she was cut off by the PT Cruiser and watched it rear-end the car in front of her.

"She missed me by inches," Nomiyama said. "It was kind of crazy."

When Nomiyama realized the offending driver was leaving the scene, she took a photo of the car with her phone.

A cell phone photo taken by a witness helped police make an arrest in a hit and run accident Tuesday in Provo. (, Kendra Nomiyama) A cell phone photo taken by a witness helped police make an arrest in a hit and run accident Tuesday in Provo. (, Kendra Nomiyama)

"I just thought, 'Oh, my gosh. I can't believe she's leaving right now and no one is going to know what this car looks like,'" she said. "It was kind of far away, but apparently it was good enough."

Police reviewing the scene discovered a partial impression from the Cruiser's license plate on the back of the Civic. Between the partial plate number and Nomiyama's photo, officers located a PT Cruiser at a nearby home with a matching license plate and pieces of the victim's taillight lodged in the grill.

Stefanie Jo Wilhite, 35, was booked into Utah County Jail for investigation of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, driving without proof of insurance and making an unsafe lane change in connection with the incident.

Nomiyama said she believes the accident was a case of distracted driving, which she called a problem for Utah drivers.

Stefanie Jo Wilhite (, ) Stefanie Jo Wilhite (, )

"I think some of it is … people who aren't paying attention to the road," she said. "I think that's a lot of what happened in this situation."

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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