The person behind the wheel of the fatal hit-and-run crash on Highway 100 early Sunday morning has been identified and is now facing criminal court proceedings, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and electronic court records.
James Christian Sitze, 21, was taken into custody Sunday night at 11:01 p.m., according to an arrest report with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. A photo of Sitze was not available as of press time, according to officers with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
The patrol’s public information officer Dallas Thompson said troopers learned of Sitze’s alleged involvement from a tip. The tipster, whom Thompson described as an “acquaintance of Sitze’s,” had learned of the patrol’s investigation via Twitter and reached out with information.
On Monday, Sitze was formally charged by Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Becker with the Class D felony of leaving the scene of an accident, which resulted in death.
The highway patrol reported Sunday that at 3:10 a.m. on May 2, Jason L. Gilley, 56, of Villa Ridge, was walking in the right lane of the highway when he was struck by an unknown vehicle. Gilley was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital Washington at 3:52 a.m.
As part of the patrol’s investigation, troopers released a photo of a broken passenger side mirror that they believed came off of the truck involved in the fatal crash.
Thompson confirmed for The Missourian that Gilley was walking in the right lane of the highway and not on the highway’s shoulder. Thompson said the make and model of Sitze’s vehicle will be released at a later time.
According to court records, Sitze was scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon before Associate Circuit Court Judge David Hoven. If convicted, Sitze could be sentenced to spend seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He could also be ordered to pay up to $10,000 in fines.
Sitze also faces criminal charges for unrelated incidents in Washington, according to court records.
He faces a charge for driving with a revoked or suspended license, a misdemeanor charge that stems from a traffic stop in Washington on Oct. 8, 2020. He also has pending charges of speeding, operating a vehicle on a highway without a valid license and driving an unregistered vehicle, all misdemeanors that date back to a traffic stop with the Washington Police Department on Feb. 26, 2021.